I’ll preface this post by saying that in these times, I am wholly against moral absolutism and thusly do not judge those who either are passionate about Vegan Leather as an alternative to leather or who just don’t care either way (because there are an infinite number of things to concern yourself with in the world).
Now then. Most “Vegan Leather” is just plastic. It’s fancy plastic, but it’s still plastic.
Like water bottles and tires, we have to think about what this product will become once it has served us in its function as an accessory or trim and moved on to the landfills. Leather takes anywhere between 25 and 50 years to decompose in a landfill. Depending on the fiber content of Vegan Leather, the answer greatly varies. Now, to be fair, I am speaking of the most commonly used synthetic leathers made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and polyurethane. There are constant innovations in the manufacturing world that are bringing plant-based alternatives to leather to the market.
Where production is concerned, the merits of natural and synthetic leathers can be debated endlessly. And, unless everyone adheres to the same moral code (how to you feel about killing animals? Do you care more about clean water than harming a sheep?) then we’ll never come to a consensus. Traditional leather tanneries like such as Bole are making strides to become industry leaders in sustainable innovation and new companies like Piñatex are creating leather alternatives for designers looking vegan alternatives that are truly doing good for the environment.
So it’s all a toss-up, really. Until products made of vegetable leathers like Apple Mat and MuSkin are widely available on the market and over shadow PVC and plastic leathers, I’'m sticking with my animal products. hat being said, I’ve still got to be cognizant of my impact and to consume leather products mindfully. For me, the two most important factor are that they are, ideally, a natural byproduct of agricultural activities and that the animals have been treated humanely.
Whether you prefer vegan leather products to spare animals of any cruel treatment or prefer leather products because they’re natural and will, one day, return to the earth, reading up on the impact of that choice and being conscious when you buy it always a good thing.
Then again, nothing really matters. So do whatever you want.