5 Facts about leather you NEED to know

There are a lot of misconceptions about leather. Two of the most common ones I hear are 1) leather is a by-product of the meat and dairy industry and 2) people only buy leather they know to be a by-product of the meat and dairy industry.  Here are the facts about leather you need to know.

Rest assured there are no pictures in this article, so if you are sensitive to images animal abuse there is nothing gory to follow. However, if you are sensitive to animal abuse, you should ask yourself why you support the meat, dairy and leather industry.

1.  Every year the global leather industry slaughters more than a billion animals.

The leather industry kills over a billion animals a year.  Let that sit with you for a second.  One Billion animals are killed each year for our handbags, wallets, shoes, belts, etc.  That is a staggering and devastating statistic.

2. Leather is simply a by-product of the meat/dairy industry.

This is partly true, but mainly a huge misconception.   Leather is better classified as a  co-product of the meat industry. Leather is the most valuable “product” of the animal, so while it is true that an animal’s meat is often sold as well, their skin represents a significant portion of the income. Seems to me the animal meat is conversely a by-product of the leather industry.

The skin makes up 10 percent of the total value of the cow making it the most profitable, and economically important part; therefore, the overall success of the industry is dependent on the skin.  Buying leather products contributes to the overall commercial viability of the industry.

Abstaining from leather is challenging because there aren’t a lot of alternatives.  However, companies like Reebok, Adidas, Stella McCartney, and Chelsea28 are designing leather alternatives.  Check them out and support cruelty-free manufacturing.

3.  Human beings suffer also.

Sadly, the fashion industry can be a cruel, corrupt and neglectful industry. The worst offenders being international leather tanneries. Leather has to be treated and tanned with chemicals to prevent decomposing.  Many of which are toxic and carcinogens.  Evidence has shown that workers in said tanneries suffer from skin diseases and respiratory illness caused by exposure to tanning chemicals.

And worse, diseases are not isolated to tannery workers alone.  The chemicals make their way into waterways poisoning residents who live near the tanneries.  Evidence shoes these residents are much more likely to contract leukemia, sinus and lung cancers, and other serious illnesses.

4.  And the Environment too!

The same tanning chemicals making workers terribly sick, i.e. formaldehyde, cyanide, lead and chromium, are also making our planet sick.   These chemicals have been proven to cause extreme pollution to air, soil and water, resulting in devastating effects to local human and animal populations.

5. You love your pets, right?

Here’s the most disturbing and shocking fact of all.  f you are wearing leather, even products said to be “made in the USA,” most likely some, if not all, of the leather was sourced from China and/or India.  Why does this matter?

There are fewer laws against animal cruelty and exploitation in these countries than any other. China, India and Brazil not only have fewer laws to protect animals, they also require animal testing on products sold in to these countries. 

What’s worse is they get their skin from a variety of animals, including, dogs and cats.  Each year, over 2 Million dogs and cats are skinned in China alone. That’s right, our very own beloved furry companions are subjected to the same devastating fate for the sake of leather goods.  There is NO WAY to tell where your leather was sourced or what animal(s) make up that leather product.

Call to Action

So, what can you do? While we don’t expect you to reject all leather goods, yet. There are a few things you can do:

  1. Buy non-leather alternatives when possible creating a higher demand for these products.
  2. Buy second hand! Not only will you find gently used designer shoes, belts and handbags, you will save money too!
  3. Participate in clothing swaps!
  4. Check out our top 5 cruelty free brands!
  5. Share this to spread the word! Each share could save a life.



  1. Such disturbing facts, but they really do need to be said so that people know to avoid real leather products! To think of all the animal abuse still going on in the world breaks my heart.. Thanks for sharing facts so people will avoid buying these items and hurting animals unknowingly by doing so xx

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