Whenever You walk into a store with leather goods, do you ever wonder how it ever came about? Leather is made from the skins of cows, pigs, goats and sheep. You probably aren’t surprised to hear that. However leather is also made from the skin of ostriches, crocodiles, alligators and even dogs and cats. Every year more than a billion animals are being slaughtered for food, cosmetics and apparels. The leather industry is a byproduct of that. Beneath the glitz and glamour of holding a branded bag or wearing a branded shoe, hid an untold story of the awful torture and murder of innocent animals. The horrors of these slaughter houses that these animals have to endure include extreme overcrowding, deprivation, unanethetized castration, branding, and dehorning. Indian workers are forced to break the tails of cows and rub chilli peppers into their eyes should the cow collapse from exhaustion. Alligators are packed in half submerged tanks, to a regular person it may seem as though it looks at peace however to a biologist, they will tell you that the poor alligator is stressed out in such a confined space (in other words, feeling claustrophobic). Kangaroo skin is usually made into soccer shoes. Workers are told to decapitate its head or to hit sharply on their head to ‘destroy their brain’. This has lead to Super Star Soccer player David Beckham switching to synthetic leather/materials in 2006. In 2012, Adidas as also stopped using kangaroo skins for its shoes too.
Leather production is of no friend to the environment. Firstly, land has to be allocated to cattle grazing, thus deforestation comes into the picture with countless of trees being chopped off or even burned away. Raising animals requires huge amounts of feed too, hence food which could be used to feed the hungry is thus diverted to these animals. There are some products out there with the label ‘eco-friendly’ too, however do not be deceived. The process of turning skin into leather requires massive amounts of chemicals such as formaldehyde, coal derivatives, oil and cyanide. Tannery effluent contains large amounts of pollutants, such as salt, lime sludge, sulfides, and acids. Tanning is necessary as it stabilises the protein fibres/collagen in skins to prevent them from bio-degrading/rotting. Those who work at tanneries are also prone to early deaths. Most of them living within the vicinity suffered cancer due to the release of toxic chemicals during the process of dyeing leather. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the incidence of leukemia among residents in an area near one tannery in Kentucky was five times the U.S. average. Arsenic, a common tannery chemical, has long been associated with lung cancer in workers who are exposed to it on a regular basis.
What you can do
You can easily stop your contribution to the torture and suffering of these animals by not purchasing any leather goods anymore. As for those leather goods You have now, you could keep it or give it away. I wouldn’t recommend throwing it away because that creates waste too. Personally, I still keep mine and wear it occasionally. However, I no longer put my dollar into industries that supports animal cruelty. There are many other companies that sell products of synthetic materials which are of excellent quality and just as fashionable. My favourite brand is lululemon as recommended by my dear friend Natascha 🙂 For more information on non-leather goods click here .
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The Global Leather Trade. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2016, from http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/leather-industry/global-leather-trade/
Leather: Animals Abused And Killed for Their Skins. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2016, from http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/animals-used-clothing-factsheets/leather-animals-abused-killed-skins/
Environmental Hazards of Leather. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2016, from http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/leather-industry/leather-environmental-hazards/