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Plant-Based Leather: The Sustainable Future of Fashion
More and more people are looking for eco-friendly, ethically-based alternatives to traditional materials that have been shown to have detrimental effects on the well-being of our planet and the creatures we live with. At the same time, the painful truths behind the use of animals and the struggle to end this exploitation have become more visible. This situation has led people to question their consumption preferences, diet, and lifestyles and thus to seek new alternatives. One of these alternatives in the fashion industry, perhaps the most surprising and innovative, is plant-based leather.
As we can understand from its name, different from animal skin, plant-based leather is a type of leather made by using themselves and wastes from various plants and fungi such as apples, corn, pineapple, banana, cacti, green tea, and coconut. In this way, it is a promising revolution for the future of humanity, animals, and our planet, as it does not require the raising and killing of animals and does not need the harmful chemicals and processes involved in traditional leather tanning. Moreover, although it looks and feels like animal skin, it is entirely non-exploitative, vegan, and egalitarian.
Since the development of the first synthetic product to replace animal leather in the nineteenth century, people have begun experimenting with various synthetic derivatives, and non-animal leather alternatives have greatly improved in quality, durability, and efficiency. But many of these alternatives are made from plastics such as synthetic polymers, polyurethane, and polyvinyl chloride, and they need to be more sustainable resources and materials for our planet. However, although these options prevent animal cruelty, they cannot be considered an adequate and sustainable alternative and are not biodegradable. For this reason, they continue to pollute the ecosystem after a short period when they complete their life of usage. On the other hand, plant-based leather is a much more sustainable and environmentally friendly choice as it is highly biodegradable and does not pollute the environment during production.
Why Should Plant-Based Leather Excite Us?
Although the fact that plant wastes and fungi can be transformed into the shoes and clothes we wear is an astonishing revolution, many aspects of plant-based leather will excite us for our present and future, both in terms of production processes, consumption and impact.
It is Non-Exploitative
Plant-based leather not only makes us look good but also makes us feel good because it is exploitative-free. Considering that billions of animals of different species are slaughtered annually for their skin, we can understand why plant-based leather is so essential for this reason alone. Many other animal species are used for animal hide production, from crocodiles to whales, dogs to kangaroos. Considering that, in general, not every animal killed for its skin is eaten, we also see a motivation that directly supports leather production, excluding the idea that leather is a by-product. For this reason, the fact that animal skin is only a by-product and will continue to exist as long as animal meat consumption continues does not reflect the truth, and the use of animal hides is at least as exploitative as the use of other animal products. However, plant-based leather adds the most crucial advantage to the advantages such as texture, durability, and longevity provided by animal leather: not leaving animals out of the equation of life!
It is Much More Environment and Health Friendly
The production of animal hides requires a high use of water and energy. Did you know that a pair of animal leather boots has a water footprint of eight thousand liters? That's the equivalent of about a thousand flushes or having a faucet running for five hundred and seventy minutes. However, plant-based leather gives life to waste or plant residues that will be wasted, significantly reducing the water footprint, and does not need high energy use!
The chemicals in processing animal leather are also hazardous for consumers. Not only do they harm our health by coming into contact with the skin, but they also have a devastating effect on the environment. However, toxic chemicals are not needed for processing plant-based leather, as is the case with animal leather. When disposed of, it does not harm the environment. It does not threaten our health and the health of the employees in the sector, as it does not contain deadly chemicals and can breathe.
The studies found that cowhide's carbon footprint causes a carbon emission of 110.0 kg per square meter and has a climate effect of about 7 times more per square meter than synthetic leather. Plant-based leather is 17 times lower when included in this comparison than synthetic vegan leather; animal leather has a 40 times higher carbon footprint. A small step for us but a massive action for our planet!
Much More Cost-Effective in the Long Term
It is seen that plant-based leather will become much more affordable compared to animal leather for both the producer and the consumer. Since plant-based leather technology is at the beginning of the road, a clean, competitive environment has yet to emerge within the sector. The R&D processes of the companies are continuing, and therefore, the prices of plant-based leather today are at the same level as first-class animal leather. However, since it does not require as many resources as animal hides to produce and does not require raising animals, plant-based leather will lead to sustainable fashion and become a very affordable option as its use becomes more widespread and development work progresses.
In addition, using agricultural and production wastes for many different plant-based leather alternatives makes plant-based leather the protagonist of an actual win-win situation. In this win-win situation, the plant residues left to nature as waste are recycled and made suitable for use, and the raw material cost, which is an essential part of the production costs, is reduced much more than animal hide.
At the same time, plant-based leather is less costly for users in the long run than animal or synthetic leather. Synthetic leather is not long-lasting, needs care to maintain its durability, and becomes unusable after a certain period. For animal leather to not wear out and to use for a long time, it should be regularly maintained with various chemicals. However, the care of plant-based leather, which has passed the same tests as animal leather and whose durability is equivalent to animal leather, is also effortless: a damp cloth and destroyed prejudices!
Versatile and Innovative
Able to withstand daily wear and tear, plant-based leather can be shaped into many different designs, making it ideal to use plant-based leather for everything from clothing to furniture. There are endless possibilities for what plant-based leather could be used for in the future! With hundreds of color options developing every day, it is stylish, stays caught up in fashion, and even is a revolution that guides the trends of our time.
To summarize, the plant-based leather industry is the equivalent of animal leather, with its high potential and many innovative perspectives to be excited about. It has an extraordinary power to contribute to a climate-friendly, exploit-free, sustainable fashion industry. It is one of the most significant indicators of what we can do when we combine our innovations as humanity with our creativity and love for the planet!
Let's grow the plant revolution together!