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.
1. PVC Leather
2. Micro-fiber Leather
3. Suede 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.
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!
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 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 🙂
The Earth Co.