Skip to main content

IS VEGAN LEATHER ETHICAL?

by Emily Fletcher

Vegan leather has become one of the most commonly used materials from plants – but how ethical is it?


First of all, what is vegan leather?


The term vegan leather refers to materials that mimic leather but are made from synthetic or plant materials instead of animals.


There are two different kinds of plastic polymers that are used to make vegan leather: polyurethane (PU) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PETA says they are commonly used because of their wrinkled texture, which gives the appearance of real leather.


In addition to this, vegan leather can also be manufactured from more organic resources, including pineapple leaves, cork, apple peels, and recycled plastic.


Is it a more sustainable option?


When investigating how sustainable vegan leather actually is, we must pay attention to its raw assets. This is because not all vegan leather is created in the same way.


As previously stated, some vegan leather is produced from recycled plastic. Despite having a lower environmental impact than real leather, it still has clear disadvantages, especially if it's made of plastic. Clothing made from plastic poses a threat during and after its lifespan since it can end up in water or landfills. The degrading process takes years and is likely to release toxic chemicals into the environment, which is incredibly unsustainable.


As well as this, ‘vegan’ leather is constantly plastered all over clothing websites such as Shein, which is the worst of the worst when it comes to fast fashion. The material is very easy to make, which is why it is displayed everywhere on fast fashion websites. Aside from this, it is more affordable than genuine leather since leather needs to be sourced from animals with the right skin and goes through several stages of artisanal production.


Putting this in perspective, those making 'vegan' leather for fast fashion websites are underpaid, working 75 hours a week, and earning as little as $2.77 per hour.

PVC is one of the main components of vegan leather, as discussed earlier. In order to make PVC flexible and wearable, phthalates are added. There is a high level of toxicity associated with phthalates on both the human body and the environment. Several countries have even banned them!


In spite of the fact that PU (the other material) is the most popular nowadays, PVC is still used to create faux leather products, which isn't always a good blend.


However, it is important to note that no animals are harmed when producing vegan leather (green flag!) – but this does not mean that it is the most eco-conscious option.


What should I buy instead?


If you are looking for a more environmentally friendly option, the answer is not so simple. It’s not vegan leather versus real leather, it’s about making informed choices and doing your research as thoroughly as you can.


Is the brand known for greenwashing its customers? Where/who will your money be going to? What materials does the brand use? Is this a brand you want to support?


Think carefully about the alternatives the brand uses before buying vegan leather, and understand that plastic-based products pose a significant threat to the environment.

Most Popular

‘Make Tattooing Safe Again’: Sheffield Based Tattoo Artist Exposed for Indecent Behaviour

 by Emily Fletcher TW: SA, Animal Abuse, Transphobia Photo Credit: @ meiko_akiz uki Recently, an  Instagram account  has been created to provide a  ‘space to safely give a voice to those who want to speak out about the behaviour of one, Sheffield based tattoo artist’. A  total of 40+ posts have been made by the above social media account regarding  one of Sheffield's most popular tattoo artists .  Thankfully, all posts are prefaced with a Content Warning prior to sharing screenshots of the messages that have been sent anonymously to the page. The majority of Content Warnings refer to sexual behaviour, abuse, and sexual assault. It is clear that there is a reoccurring theme within each submission, as many clients appear to have had the same experiences with the tattoo artist. Women, mostly, are being made to feel uncomfortable while being tattooed. One of the most vulnerable positions anyone can be in, tattoo artists should make their clients feel comfortable and safe during the pro

Fashion For a Cause: Brands That Stand with Palestine and the history of fashion as a form of Activism

by Oana-Maria Moldovan For over two months, there has been an ongoing genocide war in Gaza. To simplify a long and horrific issue, the situation that started, on a larger scale, around one hundred years ago, and has only become amplified since October 7th 2023. Taking place around the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Israel–Lebanon border, the armed conflict is between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militant groups.  The problem is about “stolen” land. Said land is seen as an important holy part of both religions involved. But really, how holy can we consider a land to be, if people kill other people for it? It’s important to remember that this genocide is about three things: forced occupation, zionism, and religion. It’s also important to remember what ethnic erasure is. This terrible expresion, also known as cultural or ethnic assimilation, refers to the process by which the distinct cultural or ethnic identity of a particular group is gradually diminished or erased, often due to ext

Now What? The Aftermath of the 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl'

by Susan Moore Here is a bit about me: I am an open, excitable, creative AFAB who is also moderately attractive. I have a unique sense of personal style and a personality that on the surface can only be described as “bubbly” and “quirky”. For this reason, dating is a nightmare. To be sure, I do not have a hard time finding dates or potential suitors. The problems arise when said dates spend some time with me and decide that I am a rare specimen, and the connection they feel with me is “unlike anything they have felt before”. Then, things go one of two ways.  Either a) they decide I am too high maintenance and no longer palatable, or  b) they choose to never look further than the surface and are content to date the idea of me rather than the real me. There is something rather interesting, perhaps funny, about my situation. It is in no way unique. I have met so many people who constantly dealt with the same problem. Even funnier still, is the fact that there is a trope that simultaneousl