Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Making the Leather Industry Less Hazardous

The leather industry has a few options available regarding their safety regulations and production. The tanneries could produce vegetable tanned leather as opposed to the incredibly toxic and often unregulated production strategies that are currently being used, all over the world. Then there is the option of using Vegan leather as well. This may sound like a brilliant idea, however, unless you have billions of dollars to create a modern new factory, with all safety concerns addressed and regulated, this is not an economically feasible idea for the current people working and living in extremely poor conditions all over the world.

Vegetable tanning is the most ecofriendly way of tanning leather because it involves no chemicals. It relies on time though, which in the fast paced world of the leather industry, time is not always on the side of the unregulated companies or their workers. “Vegetable tanning is an astonishing process based on the use of natural tannins, using modern technologies and machinery but mainly it relies on the slow passage of time.”

Faux or Vegan leather is actually not as ecofriendly as most would think. “Leather has been criticized due to the use of chemicals in its tanning process and air pollution caused during dehairing and deliming. However, it is more biodegradable than polyurethane.”

“Polyurethane is chemical inert, and no exposure limits have been established by OSHA. However, it is combustible, and burning can produce harmful carbon monoxide. It is also not biodegradable.”

This also, again, begs the issue of safety issues for the people working and creating faux leather. Of course this does not dismiss the issue of using animal leather, which in unregulated factories and still yet, as I mentioned before, even in regulated situations can be highly unethical. 

Again these are two ways of helping the leather industry move in a more ethical direction, however, the issue of the worker is often not addressed in either of these two processes. In all the negativity regarding the leather industry, the rights of the workers is often overshadowed by the idea of harming animals. 

Animals are one the earth’s most precious commodities, and so are human beings. Humans help each other sustain life. With this being said, it should be noted that humans just as animals are exploited in ways that should be incomprehensible. Both should be treated equally for their value on this planet. 

There must be global considerations with regard to both humans and animals. Habits, persistence, education and changing people minds are core to fixing the leather industries short comings. This will not happen overnight and there are many positive changes that are currently happening all over the globe. When global leaders become inspired to help change the practices in the unregulated leather industry, only then, will new habits be form and stick in ways that will conquer the currently horrendous working conditions and animal abuse that transpires every minute of every day.

In conclusion, the key, as I mentioned above is education, forming good and ethical habits and of course finding global leaders who take this issue seriously, which it is, a very serious issue. Positive reinforcement will initiate positive consistent habits that will then be forged within the leather industry. As positive habits are developed, positive energy will follow. Many of our formed ideals come from the environment we grow up in, and the leather industry cannot be changed overnight, however, time, consistency and the birth of social media is a powerful tool that can change the way people think. The more we read, the more we educate ourselves regarding the global unethical standards of the leather industry, chances are in our favor to actually change the world and make the world a better place for both animals and humans.  

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