It’s 2017, and most people realize that fur coats are tacky and cruel. In fact, the world’s top clothing retailers have banned fur altogether. But what about leather? Just like they are for fur, animals are killed to make leather items like belts, shoes, and jackets. And buying real leather is so unnecessary.
With all the awesome vegan leather jackets out there, there’s just no reason to buy one made from somebody’s skin. Here are the top reasons why you should never buy a real leather jacket:
You’re wearing skin.
As I mentioned above, leather is actually someone’s skin. How sick is that?! A few years ago, we shared a PETA Asia undercover investigation that revealed that dogs are bludgeoned and killed so that their skin can be turned into leather shoes, gloves, belts, and other accessories.
Most people were horrified to learn that dogs and cats were being killed and that their skin was being turned into these items. But just like cats and dogs, cows are sensitive animals who can feel pain, fear, happiness, and sadness, and—just like cats and dogs—they don’t want to die. So why is wearing a cow’s skin any better than wearing a dog’s or a cat’s skin? It’s not.
Leather is toxic to our environment and a danger to human health.
Skins from dead animals, just like ones from dead humans, rot. To prevent this, companies use tons of toxic chemicals that end up in nearby soil and water supplies, endangering the lives of the people who work at the tanneries—often including children—and those who live in the area. It’s estimated that 90 percent of Bangladesh tannery workers die before age 50. About a quarter of them are under 11 years old.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the incidence of leukemia among residents in an area surrounding one tannery in Kentucky was five times higher than the national average. Arsenic, a chemical commonly used in tanning, has long been associated with lung cancer in workers who are exposed to it on a regular basis. And several studies have established links between sinus and lung cancer and the chromium used in tanning.
Most of the leather in the U.S. comes from India, where people force cows to march hundreds of miles in the heat without food or water. Sometimes, people break their tails and rub chili peppers and tobacco into their eyes in order to force them to get back up after they’ve collapsed from exhaustion. Because most Indian states have banned the slaughter of cows, many cows are also tied up, crammed onto trucks, and transported thousands of miles to Bangladesh to be killed in ancient slaughterhouses.
In the slaughterhouse, workers typically tie the terrified cows’ feet together, cut their throats, and tear off their skin. Cows are sometimes still alive and kicking when their skin is peeled off—all for a stupid jacket.
The leather industry supports the meat industry.
More and more people are ditching meat and dairy foods after learning about the animal suffering that occurs on factory farms. But you may not realize that when you buy leather, you’re actually supporting these cruel industries.
The multibillion-dollar meat industry profits from more than just the animals’ flesh. Meat consumption byproducts include organs, heart valves, fat, and blood. But the most profitable byproduct of the meat industry is the animals’ skin.
When cows’ milk production in the dairy industry declines, they’re slaughtered and their skin is made into leather. The hides of their calves, who are frequently raised for veal, are sometimes turned into high-priced calfskin. The economic success of slaughterhouses and dairy farms is directly linked to the sale of leather goods.
It’s easy to find vegan leather.
Chances are, a lot of the leather-looking items you already own are probably vegan. That’s because tons of stores—such as Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, and Nasty Gal—carry synthetic leather jackets, shoes, and belts. So there’s simply no reason to buy a jacket made from somebody’s skin. In fact, wearing a cow-skin jacket is just as stupid and unnecessary as wearing a fur one!
It’s so easy to help animals used for their skin. All you have to do is check the labels before you buy any leather-looking items and avoid anything that says “leather.” Be sure to pay attention to these symbols on shoe and clothing labels:
Look for cruelty-free materials such as synthetic leather, PU, polyurethane “man-made” materials, waxed cotton, and imitation leather.
Avoid leather, suede, sheepskin, shearling, and nubuck.