The Dark Side of Vegan/Vegetarian Leather: the Hidden Impacts

In Cloverlily Blog 0 comments

Vegan leather is a dirty trick.

Vegan leathers are... plastic.


Don't get tricked by marketing, they've just changed the name of Faux leather and co-opted a term thats deemed environmentally "good", this does not mean it is. As an ex-marketeer, marketeers can be the worst.


As sustainability and animal welfare gain increasing attention, vegan and vegetarian leather alternatives have emerged as seemingly ethical and eco-friendly alternatives to traditional animal leather. Marketed as a guilt-free option, these synthetic materials claim to offer the look, feel and often claimed quality of leather without contributing to animal cruelty or environmental harm. However, a closer examination reveals a complex web of ethical and ecological concerns surrounding vegan/vegetarian leather production. Here i'll delve into the hidden impacts, drawbacks and cut through the bull surrounding these alternatives.


 An Environmental Conundrum

One of the main selling points of vegan/vegetarian leather is its supposedly low environmental impact. However, the reality is more nuanced. Most vegan leathers are derived from petroleum-based materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU). The production of these synthetic materials involves the extraction of fossil fuels, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and depletion of natural resources.

Moreover, the manufacturing process of vegan/vegetarian leather often involves the use of toxic chemicals, such as phthalates, dioxins, and heavy metals. These substances pose a threat to both human health and the environment, as they can leach into water sources and ecosystems during production or disposal. Much like the damage Chrome Tanned leather does in developing countries...

Don't even get me started on micro plastics.

Short Lifespan and No Durability

I often call my goods slow made, as they are literally the OPPOSITE of fast fashion. I craft each item using traditional techniques and natural finishes and dyes because as the marketing department at Diageo harp (Irish booze pun) on about with one of their flagship drinks Guinness... Good things come to those... you know the rest.

Genuine leather can withstand the test of time and improve with age (generating whats called a patina), vegan/vegetarian leather alternatives often fall short in terms of durability. They tend to be less robust and have a shorter lifespan, leading to quicker deterioration and the need for more frequent replacements. This cycle of fast fashion consumption not only perpetuates a throwaway culture but also contributes to increased waste generation and resource consumption.

Lack of Regulation and Misleading Claims

The vegan/vegetarian leather industry is still in its infancy, with limited regulation and oversight. This lack of standardised practices and labelling can lead to misleading claims, where products labeled as vegan leather may contain a mix of synthetic materials, including non-vegan components. Without proper regulation, consumers may inadvertently support industries that engage in unsustainable and environmentally damaging practices or use questionable materials.



While the intention behind vegan/vegetarian leather alternatives is commendable, it is essential to critically examine their environmental and ethical implications. We need to, generally be more critical of marketing in all aspects of our lives, low sugar and plant based do not mean healthy for example.

The production, use, and disposal of these synthetic materials come with a significant set of challenges that cannot be overlooked. As consumers, it is crucial to be aware of the hidden impacts and to demand greater transparency and accountability from manufacturers.


That being said, there are newer actually vegan (mushroom, pineapple etc) leather alternatives, but they are no where near the levels of durability they need to be. fine for hats, maybe a light use bag, but not a harness or strap. Maybe in 5/10 years time.


In Conclusion


Fuck corporations, buy small, buy slow, buy stuff for life not for a landfill.







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