Leather can be a hot topic for those who care about sustainability. Our viewpoint may be unpopular with some, so we welcome any opposing or differing views.
A big argument for not buying leather is because it affects the climate. And it does. Leather has about three times the CO2 footprint as a synthetic shoe.
If you want to save the environment, the reality is that leather shoes emit a total of one gallon of gas so it might be wiser to think of the bigger picture. Walk instead of drive or skip the trip all together to save gas... and you might just have a pair of shoes that last longer too. If you are an animal rights activist, then by all means, skip the leather shoes!
But to really lower CO2 levels and decrease pollution, humans need to decrease meat consumption. 51% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide can be attributed to livestock and their byproducts according to the WorldWatch Institute.
So long as people are still eating meat, there will be leather and hides available. Hopefully this number will decrease, but in the meantime, we should not let resources be wasted. In the US the value of the skins vs. meat is 3% so it is critical to lower meat consumption in order to lower the availability of leather. If we protest leather products but continue to eat meat, we cannot solve the problem. If we can successfully cut down meat consumption, we have a chance at reducing leather production as well.
Where a hide is produced can make a large impact on the environmental and animal protection rules. More than 60% of the world's cowhide and leather comes from developing countries. Sheepskin is even higher. Know the origin of your leather!
Photographed above, the large distressed black leather bag on the Made Lokal site uses natural leather from California or South America to decrease waste and processing.