Leather and faux leather products: Impact on society
Many of us use leather goods for clothing, accessories, or upholstery. But how aware are we as consumers of the impact leather has on our society? From an environmental viewpoint, leather has the greatest influence on eutrophication, an ecological problem which takes away the availability of light and certain nutrients to an ecosystem. Also, turning hides into leather requires massive amounts of energy and dangerous chemicals, including mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and various oils, dyes, and finishes, some of them cyanide-based (PETA, 2021). From a humanistic viewpoint, young and adult workers of the tanneries in Bangladesh expose themselves to chemicals which are harmful to their skin and respiratory organs (Vicenews, 2015). To replace leather, vegan leather is being introduced in the market. Alternatives to leather such as kombucha or plant-based leather, such as the pineapple-based Pinnatex, are being considered. Faux leather uses fewer animal products compared to genuine leather. On the other hand, most mainstream vegan leathers are made from polyurethane leather, which is not biodegradable-a concern for the sustainability of vegan leather (Nera Tanning, 2018). As this is a complex issue that many consumers are unaware of, this research aims to inform the consumer about the use of leather and its alternative products, the impact on the waste these options have on the environment, and ethical issues based on the three pillars of sustainability.