Everything You Wanted to Know About Vegan Leather

by Puja Shah

Everything You Wanted to Know About Vegan Leather

"Animals are the bridge between us and the beauty of all that is natural. They show us what's missing in our lives, and how to love ourselves more completely and unconditionally. They connect us back to who we are, and to the purpose of why we're here." ― Trisha McCagh


If you have a soft spot for animals, then you may take to the vegan trend that people like Ellen DeGeneres and Russell Simmons have.


So what do vegans wear when it comes to leather?


Polyurethane, a polymer material that can sparkle, have a nice glossy sheen or be saturated in all kinds of shades is a fashion designer’s dream. Also known as vegan leather, it looks pretty good, but more importantly, it makes you feel good because it’s cruelty-free.


According to PETA, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, more than a billion cows, pigs, goats, sheep, alligators, ostriches, kangaroos, and even dogs and cats are cruelly slaughtered for their skins every year. Many of these animals have their tails and horns cut off without painkillers, and some are even skinned and cut apart while still conscious. Gosh, that’s hard to even think about.


Vegan leather offers a killer look without any killing.


Planet Earth loves vegan leather, too. Turning skin into leather apparently takes loads of energy and a whole toxic brew of chemicals—including mineral salts, coal-tar derivatives, formaldehyde, oils, dyes, and finishes...some of them cyanide-based.


Tannery waste contains water-fouling salt, lime sludge, sulfides, acids, and other pollutants that can be emptied into mother earth.


If you go vegan leather, be sure it is green. And by green, we don’t mean the color.


While we have been discussing Polyurethane (PU) or Polyvinylchloride (PVC), another, less environmentally friendly material called Polyvinylchloride (PVC) is the one you want to avoid.


PU’s lightweight body makes it inherently more breathable than PVC and so allows it to adjust to body temperature more quickly, (think of Ross in his sweaty leather pants from that old Friend’s episode- probably was not made of PU).


Of course PU fabrics are much lower in price than genuine leather...but they do tend to be higher in cost than PVC.


PU is known to be a better alternative to PVC in both production and after-care since it does not require the same chemical plasticizers PVC does.


The good news is that the environmental effects of PVC have continued to improve over the years, lowering emissions and hazardous waste. Today, vinyl manufacturers recycle PVC waste back into the process to minimize the amount of non-biodegradable product in landfills. And there are even major designers like Valentino who are using more ethical approaches to leather products and dyes.


Yet some designers have even gone far enough to use only upcycled materials as their vegan leather. Paguro is a brand that uses all upcycled rubber in all their products from bags to bracelets to belts that actually really looks like leather.


Ethical, eco-friendly and fashionable...we dig that for sure.

Puja Shah

Puja Shah is a philanthropist and visionary poet who shares her voice with us through written and spoken word, guided meditations, and teaching. She reaches out to community health clinics and provides international outreach to women and children around the world.



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