Leather has a complex history, and it is a controversial material in terms of sustainability. When comparing vegan versus animal leather options, there are various variables to consider, including animal welfare, waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and water usage, to mention a few.
Vegan leather allows customers to support animal welfare and sustainability without sacrificing style, and it does it at a reasonable price. But what exactly are the different types of synthetic leather comprised of? Is it true that they are more environmentally friendly than the classic leather option? To answer these problems, we must know about ant-based vegan leathers and how they are manufactured.
What Is Vegan Leather?
Vegan leather is becoming more popular in the fashion world as a buzzword. Many of us are looking for methods to make our lives more sustainable these days, so we've jumped aboard the vegan faux leather bandwagon.
Vegan leather looks and feels like real leather, but it's made from synthetic or plant-based ingredients. PVC and polyurethane are used to make vegan leather in many cases, especially in fast fashion. These materials are made of plastic and petroleum, so they aren't exactly the most environmentally friendly option.
On the other hand, Vegan leather can be made from more natural materials like cork, paper, and even apples and bananas. Yes, the same things that go into your morning smoothie can also go into your handbag.
Veganism entails more than just avoiding meat, dairy and following a vegan diet. It also aims to eliminate the usage of animal-based goods. This involves promoting a leather substitute.
As a result of the lobbying, vegan leather, often known as faux leather, has been developed as an alternative to animal leather. We'll go over all there is to know about vegan leather in this article. We'll also look into if it's a more environmentally friendly option.
How to Make Vegan Leather From Plants
Mushroom, apple, cork, waxed cotton, and pineapple leather are the most common natural vegan leather materials. The raw materials that manufacturers employ make a significant influence on their manufacturing processes. The methods for processing the raw materials varied as well.
Manufacturers of mushroom leather use the caps of the Phellinus ellipsoideus fungus. It must be waterproofed after going through the production process. The majority of leather makers do so use natural components rather than fossil fuels or chemicals. As a result, mushroom leather is both environmentally friendly and nutritious. Mushroom leather is entirely biodegradable as well. Mushroom leather is mostly seen in fashion items such as vegan leather handbags, vegan leather shoes, and vegan leather jackets.
Apples may be made into leathers, which may come as a surprise. You might be wondering what portion of an apple is used to make leather. The apple peel is the main star. Apple leather is made from discarded apple peels or cores. This leather is a by-product of other prominent apple-based products, including juices and apple pie. Apple leather has the same environmentally favourable properties as mushroom leather.
Another vegan option is cork leather. It is obtained from cork oak trees. These trees can be found throughout the Mediterranean, notably in Portugal. Farmers gather cork from cork oaks by shaving away the bark. Cork leather has the advantage of enhancing the regeneration processes of the cork oak tree. As a result, cork leathers promote afforestation, which benefits rather than harms the environment.
Boiling the cork in water is the next stage in producing cork leathers. This gives the cork the essential pliability to be appropriately softened into sheets, which completes the cork leather manufacturing process. Some producers also use Plant-based dyes.
The fact that many buyers dislike the appearance of cork leather is a disadvantage. Its aesthetic value is lower than that of other vegan leather products. It is, however, safe to use and even healthier for the environment.
Waxed cotton is the most straightforward of all the vegan leather components. You may produce your own waxed cotton. However, you should be aware that using waxed cotton for large-scale leather production necessitates a significant amount of effort. Wax is applied to cotton to create this form of vegan leather. Waxed cotton, unlike genuine leather and many other varieties of vegan leather, may be washed. It's also flexible and water-resistant.
MulbTex is a new material manufactured from mulberry tree leaf paper pulp coated on cotton canvas and sealed with tree sap to make it water-resistant. GUNAS, has exclusive rights to MulbTex in the United States and has debuted this unique material with a line of handbags. Browse GUNAS, for the best quality vegan leather products.
Pineapple leaves and shrubs are by-products of the pineapple industry. This leather is made from the discarded parts of the pineapple shrub. The use of pineapple leaves for leather requires no additional agricultural input or water, and the resulting pineapple leather has a similar feel to cowhide leather. It's also tough and waterproof.
The fact that pineapple leather is covered with petroleum-based compounds is a serious flaw. Pineapple Leather is more durable as a result of this treatment. However, this renders the substance non-biodegradable. In the vegan leather fashion sector, pineapple leaves leather is a major hit.
Is Vegan Leather a Long-Term Solution?
Many elements must be considered when determining the sustainability value of vegan leather. Factors include the materials used, the manufacturing method, the environmental impact, and the life cycle.
Whether vegan leather can truly be called "sustainable" now depends on how it was produced. While plastic-based leather replacements do not kill animals directly during the manufacturing process, they can take years to disintegrate, which is hazardous to the environment.
Is plastic pollution, however, more harmful to the environment than traditional leather? Not only are over a billion animals killed each year for their skins and hides, but the tanning process (which turns hides into leather) has its own set of bad implications.
Heavy metals are used in tanning and dyeing, which can leak into streams and kill aquatic life. It may potentially endanger the personnel at the production factory.
In the end, it boils down to what aspects of sustainability are most important to you. There is no such thing as a perfect environmentally friendly product. Real leather can damage animals and is processed with chemicals, whereas plastic-based leather cannot harm animals directly but may not biodegrade and produce harmful pollutants. It's kind of like a "lesser of two evils" situation.
But don't forget about those apples and bananas we talked about earlier. Plant-based alternatives are becoming increasingly popular. MuSkin is vegan leather manufactured from mushroom tops, for example. It's made from non-toxic materials and is touted to be softer and more water-resistant than regular leather.
Finally, it's critical that we, as customers, do our homework on where our vegan leather products originate from and how they're created.
Plant-based vegan leathers have a positive life cycle that is improving thanks to technological advancements. The majorities of plant-based leathers are free of pollutants and have no negative health effects. However, before purchasing vegan leather goods, it is vital to learn about it. Pineapple vegan leather, for example, gets its strength from petroleum chemicals that manufacturers add to it. To some extent, this makes it toxic. Plant-based vegan leathers are frequently biodegradable. However, due to their fragile nature, they are unlikely to be recycled.
Vegan leather materials and things made from plants are your best bet for wearing vegan fashion. These goods are healthy, environmentally friendly, and fashionable.
Hopefully, you now have a thorough understanding of what plant-based vegan leather is and its sustainability.