i find that activists often choose their one cause and focus solely on that one cause. we need people to fight with all their might for individual causes. it frustrates me, however, when a recommended course of action seems to just move the problem elsewhere.
in the case of leather, i'm referring to the recommendation of buying its vegan counterpart, "vegan leather". vegan leather is pleather...plastic "leather"...plastic bonded to a fabric backing...oil derived...non-biodegradable...not as durable...cheap in the short run...costly in the long run. no animals are harmed by this product? well...hmmm. buying a canvas bag instead of a leather bag = great! wearing canvas + rubber shoes instead of leather ones = fantastic! choosing an oiled canvas jacket instead of a leather one = nice! but promoting pleather as an alternative to leather = me getting irritated.
leather is natural, durable, long-lasting, and biodegradable. the vintage leather purse above replaced the linen canvas one i carried every day for two years. i loved that purse. it was made by a talented artisan, whom i am proud to support. after two years of hard labor, the bottom became worn and holes appeared in many places. this leather purse has already been well loved, and now i can count on getting plenty more use out of it. i still love canvas for purses and shoes, but leather is usually more durable and long lasting. an added bonus of not shunning leather altogether is having a voice + a vote in which production methods we will accept. we can choose sustainability.
i apologize for how crass this sounds, but as long as people are eating cows, there will be leather from that same cow. i obviously don't entirely know how this industry works, but it would seem that a marked decrease in desire for both leather and hamburgers would be positive and sustainable.
so... what do i propose?
1. less. decreasing our needs and calming our desires for more would decrease the urgency felt by the manufacturer to produce more and quickly...decreasing the pressure for inhumane treatment of all involved.
2. value our leather pieces. we can adopt the thinking of a generation or two back...the article refers to a time when receiving one's first leather bag was a rite of passage...this bag would be treasured for years to come. i'd love for that mindset to reside within me.
3. buy quality vintage. leather has a long life, so pieces can be enjoyed by many hands and feet.
4. choose classics that won't go out of style.
5. care for what we have. condition that leather. help pieces keep their shape when stored.
6. repair if necessary. cobblers have skills.
7. take only what we need. i saw a pair of vintage frye boots at the thrift store the other day, but decided to leave them for another to discover.
8. live our values. if avoiding leather feels best, avoid it (+ pleather too).
consuming in proportion to need + being willing to pay fair prices for our purchases could allow profits to be shared down the supply chain. together as consumers, we can require that. each dollar spent is a vote!