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18 Mar '16

Which is More Eco-Friendly, Fake Leather or Real Leather?

Posted by Unicorn Goods


A pair of real leather shoes is at least 2-20x times worse for the environment than a pair of fake leather shoes. Most fake leather is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane. Producing a pound of polyurethane foam emits 3.7 pounds of CO2. Producing a pound of PVC emits 9 pounds of CO2. Producing single pair of real leather shoes, Timberlands for example, emits 22-220 pounds of CO2 per pair

Real leather is far worse for the environment than fake leather, by carbon footprint alone.

This doesn't even take into account the toxins involved in the tanning process for leather. Most tanneries use chromium, a toxic carcinogenic, in the tanning process. Not only is this element still present in the final product, but it's also dumped into the surrounding ecosystem. And the waste from vegetable tanning, which often contains lethal bacteria, can be just as bad.

For both real leather and fake leather, there are companies doing the process better. You can buy bags made from recycled materials, reclaimed materials, and from factories with better ethics. But in the end, if everything the same (which it's not), would you rather kill something or not? Go for the fake leather.

Sources: Whether the Leather be Pleather, The Green Lantern, Slate | Six Products, Six Carbon Footprints, the Wall Street Journal

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