Let’s Get Real…Or Not?
So we all know a vegan or you are one yourself, I myself am neither for nor against it, currently still sitting on the fence and every now and then pushing myself towards the edge convincing myself that if I jump will land safely on my feet.
However this post is not about whether or not I can take the plunge but rather how this lifestyle affects the fashion industry and its eco footprint. NOTE, the below findings are not from a biased viewpoint and are merely laid out for the reader to make their decision on the matter.
Both leather and vegan leather production emit chemicals harmful to environment and factory workers alike (Jody McCutcheon, http://eluxemagazine.com/magazine/what-the-heck-is-vegan-leather/).
PVC based synthetics produce a toxin called dioxin, toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer (World Health Organisation, http://www.who.int/en/). But it does not just affect humans, Exposure to dioxins has widespread effects in nearly every vertebrate species, at nearly every stage of development, including in the womb (NIH,http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/dioxins/).
PVC is also a plastic-based synthetic therefore is doesn’t fully biodegrade, mico-particles are produced and then ingested by animals, the toxins can travel far beyond sight, resulting in even arctic polar bears having dioxins in their blood stream.
The life span of a garment made from animal hide far outlives those that are made from PVC, which intern will lower the consumer consumption lessening the demand for the production of these environmentally damaging fabrics.
However in saying that, raising animals for food and leather requires huge amounts of feed, pastureland, water, and fossil fuels. Tannery effluent contains large amounts of pollutants, such as salt, lime sludge, sulphides, and acids. Arsenic, a common tannery chemical, has long been associated with lung cancer in workers who are exposed to it on a regular basis. Studies of leather-tannery workers in Sweden and Italy found cancer risks “between 20% and 50% above those expected.” (Peta, http://www.peta.org.au/).
The likes of Valentino and the entire Gucci Group have acknowledge the impacts of manufacturing leather and have now vowed to use only vegetable dyes, natural tanning processes, and slaughter only cattle raised on old farmland, as opposed to newly razed rain forests. With all that said it still really comes down to you as the consumer and where your convictions sit.
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