We're all trying to live more kindly and in harmony with the planet. And one thing that we can all do that makes a big difference is to stop wearing genuine leather made from animal skin and examine alternatives.
There are many natural materials and synthetic materials that can be used to create a leather-like material suitable for vegans.
Is Vegan Leather Faux Leather?
Yes, nearly all vegan leather alternatives are considered to be “faux leather”. All this means is that it's not animal leather.
It can be made from plastic and natural materials and the result is a fake leather material that is similar to that made from animal hides.
Is Vegan Leather Synthetic Leather?
Vegan leathers don't need to be plastic leather, while it's fine to make a vegan leather production process based on synthetic fabrics they can also be made from other natural products.
The key to being vegan is the absence of animal hide and thus, animal cruelty, rather than the specific material that the imitation leather is made from.
Common versions of this leather tend to be made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which makes a robust alternative leather but it's not completely free of environmental concerns.
How Is Vegan Leather Made?
It really depends on which material the synthetic leathers are made from. So a plastic material made of PVC is made by spraying the PVC over a layer of polyester fabric.
Alternatively, leather products made from recycled plastic bottles might be spun out into yarn during the recycling process.
Other vegan materials might include mushroom leather or banana skins, which are handled in a way that's very different from animal skins and plastics.
Is Vegan Leather Eco-Friendly?
This is very much down to the material that your fashion brands opt for when it comes to making their leather.
Polyvinyl chloride? Then it's full of toxic chemicals and not at all environmentally friendly, each time it's used it has a real environmental impact and possibly an impact on human health too.
But if you avoid plastic-based materials then you can find that vegan-style leather is very eco-friendly.
Pineapple leaf fibers for example, or recycled rubber or cactus leather can all be very good for the environment. They cut down on carbon emissions and if they're vegetable-tanned, then they are super vegan alternatives to leather that are also kind to the planet.
Is It Really OK For Vegans To Use Faux Leather?
Yes, though you might have to consult your own conscience regarding the raw materials if they include plastics, otherwise, it's perfectly fine for a vegan to wear innovative materials that deliver a leather look and feel without any harm coming to animals.
Is Vegan Leather Better Than Real Leather?
Define better? Real leather and vegan alternatives have different properties.
It's true that real leather is better for the environment than PVC (though it's more harmful to animals) but that doesn't mean that all vegan options are.
If you're using a natural material as the basis for your vegan bags, etc. then the odds are good that they are kinder to the environment AND they will often offer a wider range of colors than vegetable-tanned leather made from an animal.
How Durable Is Vegan Leather?
Vegan products can be as durable as real leather and unlike rea leather, it needs no care routine to prevent it from cracking.
If you follow the care instructions on your vegan products, they should last a long time – just keep them out of direct sunlight which can be damaging.
Can Vegan Leather Be Waterproof?
It really depends on the base materials, some are highly waterproof and every bit as good as traditional leather.
Others might not be quite as waterproof but should be fine if you let them air dry after they get damp.
How Should I Clean Vegan Leather?
You should buy specialist cleaning wipes that are meant for this style of leather goods, you simply rub them over the surface of your product and make sure to concentrate your efforts on any build-up on the surface.
If your product has absorbed some oil or wine you can wash it out with a mild solution of soapy water.
Where Would I Buy Vegan Leather?
Animal welfare is becoming a key part of many fashion businesses.
Final Thoughts On Vegan Leather
The leather industry is changing and now we can all wear and use leather products that are kind to the planet and to animals.
While there's no doubt that real leather has been an important part of our history, there's no doubt that we're in a position as a species to move beyond this kind of thing and to enjoy a cruetly-free future.