Be Stylish Being Sustainable: Cruelty-Free Leather Alternatives - Ecobuy

A more sustainable shopping needs more sustainable cruelty-free leather alternatives. However, the majority of animals raised to produce leather clothing are farmed in miserable conditions, subjected to cruel practices often in places where welfare legislation doesn’t exist. Animal leather production takes loads of energy, water and toxic chemicals that pollute the environment. And finally, livestock farming releases a lot of methane into the atmosphere, the greenhouse gas that contributes the most to global warming.

Spoiler: you can quickly stop buying conventional leather because there are so many stylish, innovative vegan-friendly, and cruelty-free leather alternatives that different brands are introducing in their creation process! Keep reading to pick the best one for you.

Cruelty-free leather alternatives

1. Second-hand leather or Recycled Upcycled one

When it comes to sustainable fashion, re-wearing, recycling, and reinventing is one of the best solutions you can think of (after reducing and buying less). Purchasing second hand, swapping clothes extends their life, and this certainly helps reduce the impact that the production of new garments has on the environment. It works for leather as well: there are so many second-hand shops and brands with excellent selections of vintage leather jackets: perfect to have your unique piece and to reduce the need for additional resource use and waste assimilation!

2. Pinatex

Pinatex is a fibre from pineapple leaf! How innovative is it? The pineapple leaves are an agricultural waste product from the existing pineapple harvest, so the raw material requires no additional environmental sources to produce. This makes Pinatex not only a vegan-friendly swap to leather but also environmentally-friendly in the production. Unfortunately, It is not biodegradable but still a fantastic alternative to animal leather.

3. Muskin

This vegetable leather made from Mycelium, the underground root structure of mushrooms, is a material that will play a significant role in the fashion industry. In fact, it meets all the requirements of animal leather needing only a fraction of the resources used to make animal leather! Muskin as well is 100% biodegradable, and the colouring process uses no chemicals. It has a soft surface very similar to suede-like products, and it can be very well worn on the skin without irritating. There is a reason if Chinese medicine has been using mushrooms for thousands of years to cure skin irritations, right?

4. Apple Leather

Apple leather, which is PETA-approved vegan, is produced by re-working leftovers from harvested apples creating a robust leather perfect for accessories. It is very durable, 100% biodegradable, naturally UV resistant and also highly breathable and hypoallergenic: all features that made it the first choice for many independent brands on the creation of their vegan bags and shoes. You should check them out!

5. Wine Leather

Wine leather, also called grape leather, is the super innovative vegan leather that came up when the Italian textile company Vegea decided to reuse the pomace (the stalk, skins and pips of grapes) wasted from wine production. The idea won, and the result is a soft, smooth, stable, 100% sustainable and recyclable leather. Moreover, it doesn’t need water for its production, a good reason to win the PETA innovation award! Agree?

6. Recycled Rubber

As we said before recycling is a great sustainable practice, especially when recycling something that has nothing to do with fashion to create stylish accessories and garments. This is the case with recycled rubber leather products. Tyres are collected from a supplier, seller, or even the garbage tip and then devulcanized, or stripped down while retaining their elemental elastic composition and form. What happens next can vary depending on the designer’s needs. The material’s flexible use and stretchiness make it perfect for countless designs.

7. Cork

An interesting fact is that Cork is harvested only from the bark of its oak tree. This means that the tree keeps on living and helping clean out the air. This makes cork one of the most renewable and eco-friendly resources on the planet. Also, “each time the cork is harvested, the tree absorbs more CO2 to aid in the bark regeneration process. This means regularly harvested cork trees store three to five times more CO2 than those left unharvested”. That’s why Cork harvesting can help the fight against global warming. Enough reasons that make Cork probably the best sustainable alternative to leather. It is also waterproof, buoyant, elastic fire-resistant, recyclable and biodegradable!

cruelty-free leather alternatives

8. Malai Coconut

Malai is a biocomposite material from entirely organic and sustainable bacterial cellulose. It grows on agricultural waste from the coconut industry in Southern India. An unconventional aspect of their production process is that they collect coconut water waste from the local farmers. To illustrate, this would otherwise be dumped, causing damage to the soil. Repurposing it to feed the bacteria’s cellulose production to process the leather. The result is a waterproof leather, light as paper, flexible, super resistant and perfect for bags!


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