How is Vegan Leather Made? – An Inspiring New Movement

More and more people are turning away from animal products and trying to find plant alternatives. This is not just with food but also with bags, shoes, hats, wallets, clothing, make-up and skin care. The list goes on!

It is crazy to think how much we have continued to rely on animals for our ‘needs’ and with an increasing population, that ‘need’ will grow, which means more suffering for animals.

One particular fabric that has sparked interest in consumers that are seeking animal product alternatives is switching from leather (made from the skins of cows,

deer, elephants, snakes, crocodiles and others) to Vegan leather.

Now what is Vegan Leather you say? Is it really just as good as normal leather, and if so, what is it made out of?

I was very curious about all these questions too, and decided to research what I could about this topic of Vegan leather and see if it is not only durable like normal leather but if it was environmentally friendly.

I found out that there are various types of Vegan Leather:

1.       PVC Leather

2.       Micro-fiber Leather

3.      Suede Leather 

PVC Leather

It is a plastic called Polyvinyl chloride and is the world's third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer, after polyethylene and polypropylene.

PVC is a thermoplastic (can become soft when heated) made of 57% chlorine (derived from industrial grade salt) and 43% carbon (derived from oil / gas). It is less dependent than other polymers on crude oil or natural gas, which is non-renewable, and hence can be regarded as a natural resource saving plastic, in contrast to plastics such as PE, PP, PET and PS, which are totally dependent on oil or gas.

It is a flexible plastic that is made from PVC Resin, fillers and additives to manipulate leathers softness, color and texture.  Once the desired fillers have been added, PVC is used as a coat on one side of a fabric backing.

 

Micro-fiber leather

Microfiber is a synthetic fiber which is very fine in fact it has a diameter of less than ten micro-meters. This is smaller than the diameter of a strand of silk, which is itself about 1/5 the diameter of a human hair… that is crazy small!

What is interesting about this fiber is that it is made out of the same materials used to make plastic would you believe!? It is a natural by product of petroleum production. Now don’t freak out! It is actually a great environmental solution because after the oil is processed, there is a type of 'sludge' residue left over . It is collected, then refined and then used in one of two processes. The first is to make plastic and the second is to be spun into fibers which is woven into materials. If it wasn’t used to make fabric, they would just dump it into landfill!

This all began in the 1970’s where they primarily used microfiber to make carpet and upholstering furniture.  Now, due to the continuing refinement of the this industries production, microfiber can be made into almost anything! From sheets, mops and car seats, to bags, wallets and shoes!

It use to be dumped into the environment, but now it is able to be created into something durable and very well used.

 

Vegan Leather Brands

 

Some vegan leather brands use more synthetic processes including the use of PVC and use a lot of polyurethane to make cheaper and therefore low grade products which will consequently lack durability tests such as peeling, crocking, and tensile strength.

Whereas other brands such as Doshi use microfiber leather and microfiber suede (a type of microfiber but made out of millions of microfibers) which are the only true animal leather alternatives as they were intentionally made to mimic the hand feel of leather and often outperform leather in durability tests. They avoid using pure non-microfiber polyurethane in almost all of their products and almost never use PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Doshi only uses a small amount of PU (polyurethane) with some of their microfiber products but avoid it when they can, microfiber suede on the other hand does not need any plastic at all.

In regards to other contributing environmental factors, microfiber uses no pesticides and there is no dying of the ‘fabric’ unlike cotton where thousands of water can be contaminated and leached out into water ways.

Doshi uses high quality microfiber and suede leather, and has now found a way to minimize their environmental footprint even more by selecting a refined microfiber from Japan where the production significantly minimizes their water-use and solvents which in comparison to other vegan leathers, increases sustainability by fourfold!

 

About Doshi

Not only is Doshi always trying to find ways to decrease their environmental footprint and increase sustainable production methods, they look after their workers by regularly visiting their factories in order to ensure environmental practices are being implemented as well as ensuring their employee’s are working in safe and fair conditions.

Additionally, Doshi aspires to make massive change to the world and have already done so by creating a program called The First Five for the World Initiative where they donate 5% of all sales to responsible non-for-profits working to benefit the lives of animals, people, and the environment. What an incredible Initiative!

They have already made contributions with:

  • Farm Sanctuary
  • Compassion Over Killing
  • Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank
  • Mercy For Animals
  • India Development and Relief Fund

They do all of this and still make sure their prices are reasonable for consumers, because they care about the quality of their product, the ethics and environmental footprint consequences to make the product. It is not every day you find a brand who is more concerned about making a difference in the lives of others then creating profit.

 

Thank you!

Thank you for reading this blog and I hope you found it informative!

Please feel free to comment below your thoughts on this topic, I would love to hear from you 🙂

 

Yours Truly,

 

Danielle Packer

The Earth Co.

 

 

10 thoughts on “How is Vegan Leather Made? – An Inspiring New Movement

  1. I was very intrigued by your article because vegan and leather aren’t two words I would normally think go together 🙂 Pretty interesting that micro-fiber is made from plastic components, I had no idea. Micro-fiber products have been around for years. It’s nice to know something worthwhile can be made with the leftover “sludge”.

    I am glad to hear you are finding a company that actually gives back and has a mission to help make the world a better place. I love companies who do good or at least try to. Thanks for sharing, I appreciate the work you are doing.

    1. Yes, it is a funny thing to say, isn’t it?! I am glad too, that there are companies out there that are making a massive change instead of focusing solely on profit.

  2. Hello Danielle, thanks so much for your great post! I am myself on a vegan journey and love to inform myself about more ways to integrate a cruelty free lifestyle into my everyday life. Doshi bags are now on my must have list! They have great principles that I absolutely support. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. That is great to hear Nathalie! I am learning all the time about the different ways I can deter away from animal products and minimize animal suffering. I am so glad you love the Doshi brand! They really do have great principles.

  3. I would like to know why vegans would like to own a product made of leather- ok it is simulated leathr but still looks like and feels like leather.
    wouldn’t this be the last thing they wanted as most vegans i know really don’t like the way animals are treated and this is one of the main reasons they went vegan.
    so why is it that you have simulated leather, simulated food ( vegan sausages and soya mince) and other simulated products which mimic products meat eaters have and use?
    are these products made for those who still have a hankering for meat and meat derived products?
    just interested – not having a rant.
    Phil

    1. Hey, Phil! I understand your point of view and it is valid.
      At the end of the day, Vegans don’t stop eating meat or not using leather because they don’t like the taste or the feel of animal products, for example, the fur of an animal feels amazing, meat tastes great, and leather is very durable and useful in everyday products.
      However, these products involve harming and causing suffering towards animals which Vegans do not like, so if we can find ways to have the things we like, but not harm any animals, then why wouldn’t we!?
      Does this make sense, Phil?
      Some Vegans may disagree with me and that is totally okay, but this is coming from my point of view 🙂

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