In this post, we will talk about vegan leather and what’s the use of it. So, what is it? Well, vegan leather is in reality PVC or simply put-plastic. Just as pleather and faux leather which are also petroleum-based. One of the biggest issues with those types of fake leather is the usage of PVC which according to Greenpeace “it is the single most environmentally damaging type of plastic”.
To be made like real leather, it needs to be processed with chemicals that make it much softer, better looking, and longer-lasting. In comparison with real leather, it smells weird, doesn’t allow the skin to breathe, and can easily catch fire because of all the chemicals. In reality, it doesn’t even decompose as normal leather but instead of that, it releases toxins that get into the soil, air, and water.
Despite the fact that PVC is still much less used than let’s say in the 1960s, plastic is still used for the production of the “vegan leather” but under a new name- PU. It’s said to be not as dangerous as PVC because in its production there are far less toxins included. It’s also better for people as it is a more breathable kind of material. Unfortunately, it’s damage can be controlled only locally which means that while the European Union requires vent control for low emissions the USA and China have fewer restrictions on that.
Why do brands prefer it?
On the one hand, “vegan leather” is a marketing strategy. In recent years, environmental movements have grown bigger and stronger and that exercises some pressure on brands and their products. It has been existing for decades now but only in recent years it became known as “vegan leather”.
Also, it’s much thinner which makes it much easier to work with. It’s also cheaper when it comes to production and usage. Working with real leather and creating real leather products requires much more craftmanship and knowledge which is expensive too. So, in reality, brands are not only using greenwashing, misguided marketing campaigns to promote plastic and gain more clients but are also saving money not using real, good, and quality materials.
What are the alternatives?
There are real vegan and eco-friendly leathers out there that can be made from all kinds of materials. Some of the materials are apple leather, wood leather, and cork which are mostly used by brands.
Scientists have been trying to make vegetable-based plastic which would remove the need for PVC production. It’s made from a by-product of plant oils and reduces a lot of the dangers of PU making. They want to start making PU with such kind of formula which would make it biodegradable.
Nowadays there’s another option on the market too. It’s a 100% recycled PU coated in this vegetable-based plastic that gets rid of any of the PU issues and receives great recognition for is sustainability.
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