In this day and age most leather is terrible for the environment. If you overlook the obvious effects of the raising the livestock and the pollution that results, you can still find many reasons not to purchase leather. Dyes found in leather have been linked to increased leukocytes in fish. Leather tanning is considered one of the most polluting activities in the manufacturing business and has the highest toxic intensity per unit output. If you don’t care about the environment at all, leather has also been shown to have chromium which can be a major skin irritant. All in all I would say that it is best to stay away from this particular product.
The environmental impact of leather varies depending on where it is processed. The U.S. has relatively strict standards for tanneries but other countries don’t. Traditional tanning processes releases harmful chemicals into the environment, including aluminum and chromium.
Some leather sold in the U.S. comes from recently deforested areas in the Amazon. Nike and Timberland have pledged to stop buying leather that contributes to deforestation. Unfortunately, other brands such as IKEA, Adidas, and Gucci are still buying it. The best thing to do is to educate yourself and buy leather that you know has been sustainably processed. Vintage and reclaimed leather are also options.
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