Think Sustainable Fashion; Think About Leather Alternatives

This Fashion/Materials Blog is to educate and make you think about the brown leather products used in the world, hence the name think brown. It is here to inform and showcase the benefits of a world with products that mimic the look and feel of leather, but without the environmental, ethical and unsustainability of leather.

The Leather Industry is TOXIC in more ways than one:

  • Toxic Chemicals are used to tan leather, causing health problems for many (the picture above are vats of toxic chemicals used to tan/dye leather)

  • The CO2 equivalent impact of having that many cows brought up just to be slaughtered for leather is massive.

  • The rainforests of the amazon are being cut down to have pastures for those cows, further impacting CO2 from all the trees being cut down.

  • The world's number 1 producer of Leather is Asia - which when combined with factories that have 57% of their power coming from Coal are polluting our air further. This is industrialization is possibly even creating health problems.

  • What about the air pollution from all those container ships coming from Asia to the Americas? Did you know that shipping causes 2.2% of all greenhouse gas pollution, that's more than the entire country of Germany. 20% of the shipping is caused by container ships alone. The 15 biggest ships in the world more of some key pollutants than all the world’s cars put together!

So what are the faux leather alternatives for the fashion industry? There are many of these vegan leather alternatives that are sustainable! Here are just a few:

  • Apple Leather

  • Cactus Leather

  • Fruit Leather

  • Grape Leather

  • Orange Peel Leather

But what about PVC, Polyurethane, PVB and others? Why are they not listed? Those are not sustainable solutions either, regardless of if they are made from recycled plastic bottles or not. Think of all the fashion that gets thrown away.

  • In America Alone 14 million tons of fast fashion clothing gets thrown away.

  • Many of those "free returns" you can mail back go directly to the garbage. This is truly the era of irresponsible fast fashion.

  • When those clothes enter the landfill, bits of plastic or even larger plastics can enter the ocean. It is not just water bottles polluting the ocean.

  • Even if someone keeps their clothes that are made of polyester, nylon and acrylic and washes them in hot or warm water this releases 100s or 1000s of particles of micro-plastics into our rivers, lakes and oceans. This is true even if the plastics come from recycling.

    • It is better that recycled plastic bottles get used for things that don't go in washing machines.

So what can we do about this? There are a couple of very good options:

  • Donate your unused fashion to places that resell them to others and don't just ship them off to faraway places (like many places in Africa, causing declines in local business).

  • Buy less disposable fashion, instead focus on quality.

  • When you do buy fashion, look at what it is made of. This blog will tell you about the outer leather materials, but also consider the inside materials. Avoid linings of nylon, polyester and acrylic. Instead find products made with linen, lyocell and the other faux leathers mentioned above. Some companies even try to sell you eco-friendly products made from leather alternatives but are lined with polyester, don't fall for it!

Coming Soon! We will be investigating made close in North America (without heavy use of materials shipped from Asia or Europe) fashion brands and providing our favorites for you.

Not all vegan leather is created equal... Clothing made from plastic can pose a threat during and after its lifespan because it could end up in water or landfill. This takes years to degrade and releases toxic chemicals into the environment, which is unsustainable.

Harpers Bazar (17 April 2020)

Leather is the worst material for the environment, ... (it) also pollutes the Earth with the toxins used in the tanning process.

PETA Clothing Shopping Guide

The environmental impact of (marine) shipping includes air pollution, water pollution, acoustic, and oil pollution. Ships are responsible for more than 18 percent of some air pollutants.

Wikipedia (taken 16 May 2021)

Think Clean Not Chemicals

Think Drinking Water Not Fashion

Think Clean Air not CO2