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Leather vs Petroleum

Posted by Katrina Marhefka on
Leather vs Petroleum - Espacio Handmade
To leather or to vegan leather: that is the question.

I often get questions and comments about my choice to work with leather. As you know, it's important to me to honor the material I use by minimizing waste and using scrap leather to make more products.

One thing you may not know is that the leather I use is a by-product of the food industry and the animal-work industry. Without a leather industry, hides from both of these markets would most likely end up in a landfill.

This blog is in no way meant to convert anyone from vegan leather to real leather or vice versa. However, I'd like to share some information about leather, vegan leather, and my choice to work with this material.
AirPods PRO Charger Keychain
Real Leather
Leather is considered a slow-fashion material because of its ability to withstand wear and tear. A well-made leather garment or accessory can last decades, thus keeping waste out of landfills.

When leather does hit the landfill, it biodegrades at a rapid pace compared to most leather alternatives.

Veg-tan leather (the leather I use for products like my Luggage Tags, Hip Flasks, and Keychains) is made using ancient techniques that tan the hide using nontoxic, naturally-derived plant chemicals. Veg-tan leather biodegrades without leaching chemicals into the soil.
Vegan Leather
The most common leather alternative is made with polyester and a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coating. It is a petroleum-based plastic made with fossil-fuels, and, unfortunately, it is not biodegradable.

Excessive amounts of water and non-natural dyes are used in making this leather alternative. Synthetic fibers like these are the biggest source of microplastic pollution in the ocean.

Another astonishing fact is that 70 million barrels of oil are used every year to make polyester.

When looking at the long-term environmental impact of faux leather, the results are concerning.
So which is best?
While there is no perfect solution, it is my opinion that using real leather to create long-lasting products is the best way to make use of the meat industry & animal-work industry by-products and keep everyday accessories out of the landfill.

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