- Worldwide, the leather industry is responsible for more than one billion animal deaths per year.
- Leather is often produced in third world countries without animal welfare standards.
- Animals are often starved before skinning. Some are even skinned alive.
- Soft leather (like that used for "luxury" or "high-end" products) is often made from newborn or aborted calves.
- Rarer animal skins such as alligators, snakes, zebras, lizards, or elephants are also used. These animals are sometimes poached for their skin. Products can also be made from cat or dog hides.
- Leather is not just a by-product of the meat industry-- it is a lucrative product in its own right and, like meat, is produced to meet consumer demand.
- Often produced in countries lacking health and safety standards for workers (including child workers as there are often no age restrictions) leading to high risk of death and injury. For example, the World Health Organisation reports that 90% of Hazaribagh tannery workers will die before the age of 50.
- Chemical poisoning, respiratory disorders, skin conditions, blindness, autoimmune disorders, and high rates of certain cancers.
For the Environment:
- Tannery chemical use and its runoff can include chrome, formaldehyde, arsenic, cyanide, lead, coal-tar, ammonia, acids, natrium, and mineral salts.
- Factory farm bio-waste including blood, faeces, and urine contributes to a high risk of disease for both humans and animals.
- Toxic chemical and biological gas emissions.
- Pollution of waterways and crops.
- Livestock breeding requires a large percentage of the earth's natural resources, using up 70% of farmland and covering 30% of the surface of the earth. 55% of earth erosion is due to livestock farming as is 90% of tropical rainforest destruction.
- Many Vegan "leathers" are made in self-contained, non-polluting factories. Steadily improving technology means more and more non-leather materials are sustainable (recycled, recyclable, biodegradable yet durable).
- New technologies allow for natural, non-synthetic "leathers" to be created from materials such as cellulose, kombucha culture, and vegetable dyes.
The Cologist - Toxic Chemicals Used for Leather Production
The Guardian - Bangladesh Toxic Tanneries
The Guardian - Ethical Fashion
PETA - Environmental Hazards with Leather
Journals - Health Hazards Assocated with Polyurethane Foams