Is “Sustainable” Leather Really Better for the Environment?

Galahad Clark, Terra Plana, vegetable-tanned leather, sustainable leather, eco-friendly leather, eco-friendly shoes, eco-fashion, green fashion, sustainable fashion, sustainable style, Ask a Designer

Galahad Clark, owner and director of Terra Plana

As long as people eat meat, leather can be an industry byproduct and a realistic sustainable proposition. A huge shift in cattle culture, however, needs to happen first. While there is a move toward “sustainable” leather sourcing from free-range cows, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. To really impact change, we still need a mass-market solution.

Galahad Clark, Terra Plana, vegetable-tanned leather, sustainable leather, eco-friendly leather, eco-friendly shoes, eco-fashion, green fashion, sustainable fashion, sustainable style, Ask a Designer

CATTLE AND DEFORESTATION

One of the main issues of late, as raised by Greenpeace’s“Slaughtering the Amazon” campaign, is that it’s the fashion industry—rather than the meat one—that is driving an increase in cattle farming. The result is that swathes of the Amazon continue to be cut down for grazing lands and growing soybeans for animal feed.

It’s the fashion industry—rather than the meat one—that is driving an increase in cattle farming.

The demand for leather products will increase until leather supply is properly restricted and much higher prices are reached in the hide market (which is effectively a commodity market). It’s critical that the price increase and restrictions go hand-in-hand so that it doesn’t become even more attractive to raise cattle for leather. Otherwise, leather will be a byproduct of an environmental disaster.

Galahad Clark, Terra Plana, vegetable-tanned leather, sustainable leather, eco-friendly leather, eco-friendly shoes, eco-fashion, green fashion, sustainable fashion, sustainable style, Ask a Designer

LEATHER ALTERNATIVES

Another solution is the use of kid leather, as goats don’t have the environmental issues associated with cows. They use much less ground (more efficient) and are bred more in Africa, India, and the Middle East.

At Terra Plana, we’re acutely aware of the issues surrounding leather.

At Terra Plana, we’re acutely aware of the issues surrounding leather and despite our commitment to vegetable-tanned processes that are gentler on the planet, we’ve introduced a larger-than-ever vegan collection this season. (A portion of proceeds go to the Slaughtering the Amazon campaign.)

We’ve also inked a long-term partnership with Greenpeace to help the fashion industry make changes in the way leather is sourced.

Galahad Clark, Terra Plana, vegetable-tanned leather, sustainable leather, eco-friendly leather, eco-friendly shoes, eco-fashion, green fashion, sustainable fashion, sustainable style, Ask a Designer, Vivo Barefoot

SMARTER DESIGN

Terra Plana’s leather shoes are made from non-Amazon-sourced leather and use a variety of eco-friendly manufacturing and design methods, including nontoxic dyes, minimum components, water-based glue, and recycled and recyclable materials.

The Terra Plana POP uses only 12 components, with a glueless construction that makes it easy to upcycle.

The Terra Plana POP is a great example of this. Using only 12 components, the glueless construction means that it can be upcycled at the end of its life, rather than downcycled.

Because we’re driven by the fact that conventional shoes are bad for you and bad for the environment, we’ll continue to take on ambitious projects to shake up the shoe world for the better. There’s no denying that it’s a big job, but we are getting closer every season.

+ Terra Plana

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