#AskHJJ: Is Leather Ethical?


Previous #AskHJJ: 1

Welcome to the second part of the new series, #ASKHJJ where I turn to you readers to ask those burning questions that you need the answers to! Ask me by FB, IG, email, or comment right below to inspire the next #ASKHJJ.

If you followed any of my gift guides during the holiday season, you’ve probably seen one of my popular gift guide, unique leather gifts! You probably thought it was unusual, if not morally questionable, that I would suggest leather goods but not discuss the ethical discourse surrounding it.

Leather isn’t as black and white as the controversial cows it originates from, the issue may be more complicated than you think.askhjj_ethicalleather

Here are some great things about leather:

Did you know leather lasts FOREVER? Ok, not forever but a very long time. It’s incredibly durable and can withstand a lot of wear and less tear, and will keep it’s shape and quality for most of it’s life cycle. It will long last any PU/faux-leather garment or accessory. If you need to buy a new PU-leather purse every time your current bag rips, tears, or loses it’s shape, a real leather bag will last much longer. For every time you need to replace a PU item, the cycle of production repeats, including all the pollution and environmental factors.
If you’re anti-animal products, than PU is an option, but not the best option (environmentally-speaking).

Leather requires little to no maintenance. Leather goods don’t require constant washing. If it needs to be cleaned, spot cleaning works just fine. There’s little occasion where you need to throw an entire leather jacket into the washing machine.
Note: If you do need a thorough cleaning, a dry-cleaner service will probably need to treat it with chemicals.

It is also a by-product of the meat industry. There’s an excess of leather leftover from producing meat products. Ofc, if you’re vegan or fully committed to animal-free products, than it’s understandable why you choose to be leather-free (and it’s everyone’s choice).

So what makes leather unethical?

The leather industry has a lot of social and environmental issues that need changing. During the production of leather tanning, toxic chemicals (infamously: chromium) are often used to soften and prep cow hides for manufacturing. In North America, we’re lucky enough to have laws protecting workers from dealing with such toxic chemicals. In countries where worker’s safety laws are more loose like India and China, those workers aren’t so lucky. A few of the health causes of working with chromium: inhalation can cause respiratory cancers, exposure can cause skin diseases, and accidental ingestion can cause kidney diseases.

The meat industry is notorious for it’s mistreatment of animals, therefore the possibility of the leather by-product consumers are using came from abused animals is high.

Cattle in general is a hot button issue in general. From deforestation, to the excessively high carbon footprint the cattle industry holds, it’s notoriously harmful to the environment.

What are some alternatives to the traditional leather?

Leather goods that are tanned by vegetable tanning is more environmentally friendly and non-toxic to workers manufacturing with it.

If you’re lucky enough to find vintage leather goods, it retained it’s quality until it reached your hands and will continue to last for many more years to come.

Invest in leather goods that use local sources. Support companies that know their leather source, and ethically source it from farms in their area.

Support brands that use deadstock leathers for their goods. Deadstock means that they received their fabric from a source that had an excess amount.

Leather goods that are made from reclaimed/recycled leather is stylish, but also eco-friendly too.

Links à la Mode, January 28

SPONSOR: Shopbop Whistles, Haute Hippie Dresses, Sperry Shoes, Blush Dresses, Black Leather Pants, Lace Up Booties, STATE, Charlotte Olympia, Ruifier, Men’s Thomas Mason


9 thoughts on “#AskHJJ: Is Leather Ethical?

  1. Well put. I must add that there are animals that are farmed solely for leather industry, too, and I’m personally not okay with that. I’m fine with animal products as long as they come from ethical sources, but I tend to go for vintage leather items – they have already been proven to be very long lasting 😀


    1. Ah thank you for bringing this up! That’s a very good point I haven’t touched upon. Animals farmed for the sole purpose of using their skins for leather suffer such a poor fate.
      Hey, good on you for choosing vintage! I’m on a hunt for a vintage leather jacket myself, it’s a challenge!


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