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A lot of the leather that is sold in stores comes from cows, but the skins of elephants, crocodiles, and even dogs are also used to make leather goods. The cruelty associated with the animal leather industry is disturbing in itself, but there are other reasons people should reconsider buying leather. In addition to the animal cruelty aspect of leather production, cattle farming is contributing to deforestation and climate change. The process used for tanning leather also exposes workers to dangerous chemicals that have been known to cause cancer, as well as pollute the environment.

There are plenty of reasons to avoid using leather, and as more people begin to realize the environmental impact of the cattle industry and the cruelty involved in leather production, the demand for alternatives is growing. The fashion industry has long been a leader in this movement, with countless companies like Stella McCartney and Matt & Nat appealing to vegans and non-vegans alike by offering high-quality and fashionable shoes, bags and accessories made from leather alternatives that are better for the planet.  Even car companies like Tesla are choosing to ditch leather and opt for vegan alternatives.

But even though synthetic alternatives to leather have been around for decades, many are still petroleum-derived or contain PVCs, a known toxin. The desire to reduce dependence on oil and find more sustainable alternatives to leather has led companies to come up with innovative ways to create durable, leather-like products using everything from plants to bio-fabricated materials grown in a lab.

Here are a few of the innovative companies making leather from things you might never expect!

1. Ananas Anam

Round Up of All the Companies Making ‘Leather’ From Non-Animal Products

Pinatex/Facebook

Started by a former leather industry expert who wanted to find an alternative that was safer for humans and the environment, Ananas Anam is making a leather-like material from the fibers of pineapple leaves, which are a by-product of pineapple harvest. The material, Piñatex, is made by extracting the fibers from the leaves, which is then turned into a base material to make durable wallets and bags. Making sure nothing goes to waste, even the by-product of the fiber extraction process is recycled by turning it into fertilizer and converting it into bio-fuel.

2. BioCouture

BioCouture is seeking out ways to make clothing from eco-friendly and biodegradable sources – the idea is you can compost the clothing when it wears out. Items include leather-alternative jackets, skirts and shoes made from cellulose — and it all started by growing bacteria in a bathtub with sweet green tea. When you consider the amount of clothing that’s sent to landfills every year, having a compostable option seems like the perfect alternative.

3. Green Banana Paper

Round Up of All the Companies Making ‘Leather’ From Non-Animal Products

Green Banana Paper/Facebook

Made from recycled banana trees, Green Banana Paper is making sturdy, water-resistant wallets that are durable like traditional leather but are a much more humane alternative. Their methods are also sustainable since they use banana leaves that would otherwise go to waste post-harvest. Since the company started on the island of Kosrae, Micronesia, they’ve recycled over 170,000 pounds of leaves, created jobs in their tiny community and helped banana farmers earn extra income.

4. Modern Meadow

With a mission to make animal-free products that mimic the real thing, Modern Meadow is taking the cruelty out of the leather industry by using living cells to create bio-fabricated materials exactly like leather, all without harming a single animal. With everything being grown entirely in a lab, this mind-blowing technology is a complete game-changer that gives people the products they want without leaving behind a large carbon footprint.

5. MycoWorks

Round Up of All the Companies Making ‘Leather’ From Non-Animal Products

MycoWorks/Facebook

Mushrooms add a hearty texture to plant-based dishes and are often used as a substitute for meat, but MycoWorks is taking things a step further by using mushroom mycelium to make leather. After 20 years of research, they’ve developed an eco-friendly leather alternative that’s strong, water-resistant and completely biodegradable. The company is able to custom-grow the material into virtually any size or texture desired, making it the perfect alternative to animal leather.

6. Vegea

Based in Milan, Italy, this innovative company has developed a way to make leather using the skins, stalks, and seeds of grapes. These by-products of the wine industry usually go to waste, but Vegea has found a way to turn it into a leather-like fiber. This patent-pending technology will be used to turn nearly 14 billion pounds of grape marc that’s discarded globally every year into a cruelty-free leather alternative that can be used for everything from accessories to furniture.

With so many leather alternatives already available and more likely on the horizon, it is our hope that cruelty-free and eco-friendly alternatives will soon be in higher demand than animal-based leathers. It is a better choice for the animals, as well as our planet.

Lead image source: Green Banana Paper/Facebook

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0 comments on “These 6 Companies Are Making Cruelty-Free Leather From the Most Unexpected Things”

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Cobus Brink
5 Days ago

Two things that your article are missing.

While it is true that cattle farming in some areas of the world leads to deforestation, so does any other form of agriculture in that areas, so if your argument for not using leather is that you save the rain forests, then you must also argue that people should stop eating as a vegan diet also can from the ground that needs to be cleared. In fact in all cases of mono-culture farming ALL vegetation is removed and kept away with chemicals, not so on grazing land where grasses and shrubs remain. Further a lot of cattle is farmed in savanna areas where they graze the natural grass, and no trees needs to be removed.

Secondly, although the tannery industry did use some nasty chemicals in the past, nearly all has been replaced with more environmental friendly ones, not only in their end use in the tannery, but also in the process chain to manufacture them. The few where no better substitutes are available are tightly controlled, both from an environmental perspective and a health perspective for the workers and the end user of the leather. I daily see website mention arsenic, lead, etc being used in making leather. In 30 years in the leather business I have never used arsenic, nor lead based products as they have been replaced many decades ago. Yes, there are some old tanneries in 3rd world countries who still use some of the old ways, but they are by far the minority. Yet when talking about leather people only use pictures of these traditional tannery district in Fes and Hazaribagh as if they are the norm, and no pictures of major tannery towns in 1st world countries like Santa Croce and Arzignano. Do yourself a favor and visit a modern tannery to see how far the leather industry has moved away from a filthy, unacceptable industry. Each and every customer I deal with demands that we only use chemicals and processes which are REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals EC Regulation No 1907/2006) compliant, and they regularly test for banned substances in the leather. On the issue of workers being expose, the same story.

We are also legally bound by the strictest health regulations. Stressors which is regularly monitored, both by internal and external auditors are, noise, chemical dust and vapors (long list of chemicals), working temperature, ergonomics, etc. Each worker working in a noisy environment has to wear hearing protection has to be subjected to a hearing examination by an external medical testing facility on a regular basis. Likewise people working in areas where the dust limit is exceeded must be given appropriate breathing protection and a regular spyrometric evaluation.

Cattle are killed for their meat and only days to weeks after the slaughter the skin arrives at a tannery to be used to make leather. By that time the animal has already been eaten, so I do not understand how cruel handling of the cow is a label the tannery must carry. Animals also are not first skinned and then killed as PETA and some other groups like to tell people. Nobody in their right mind will try and remove the skin off a live animal. Irrespective of whether the animal is big or small it will bite, kick and scratch, anyone causing serious injury to the person, if having to suffer the kind of pain inflicted by removing its skin while alive. The skin will also be all but useless as it will be full of accidental knife holes and cuts from all the struggling. But ultimately it begs the question; why would you want to remove the skin off the live animal when it needs to be killed in any case? Its not like we let the skinless animal go and it will grow a second skin. When the skin is off the trauma is very big and will lead to death within minutes.

I must at least comment you on not using the word "leather" in the article for materials that does not bare any link to leather like some websites like to do. To some leather is bad but they still use the name because they want to ride on the images this "bad" material has earned as a "good" material for some applications.


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Nicole
13 Days ago

I remember watching this program on TV about fabrics made from threads that were made from lotus plant.
Think it is in Myanmar.


Reply
John Pasqua
14 Days ago

THE FUTURE OF PLANT BASED LIKE MATERIALS IS HERE TO SAVE THE ANIMALS NOW.


Reply
Jeff Biss
14 Days ago

We need to see more products made from these alternatives and have the sources sell them to individuals who have the talent to make garments from them, in addition to the big houses, to get them known.


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