Great news, Green Monsters! It looks like the time we’ve all been waiting for – a time where we’ll finally be able to get all of the luxurious leather goods we want without a single animal being harmed in the process – is extremely imminent. The innovative folks over at Modern Meadow, a Brooklyn-based start up, have raised $40 million to push forward with their plan to become the top source of leather for the world’s makers of fashion and accessories, luggage, sporting goods, upholstery, and furniture! The best part, they’re doing it all without using animals.

Their process of “biofabrication” produces a material that has the same flexibility, smooth texture, and elasticity of leather without following the traditional manufacturing process. Modern Meadow assures prospective customers and investors that the biofabrication process is completely animal-free.

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What Modern Meadow is trying to accomplish is monumental. After all, crafting leather goods is one of the oldest human activities. Back before industrial livestock production, people would rub animal fats on leather to render it flexible and tough and use the material for tents and clothing. Although leather may have had a humble beginning, the material has grown to be used all over the world, and according to forecasts from Research and Markets, sales of leather goods are expected to hit $91.2 billion globally by 2018.

Unfortunately, as with every process involving livestock, there is a lot of cruelty involved in creating the final product you see in the window displays of high-end retailers. While it may not seem like it at first, leather is actually just one of the many facets of the meat industry. Essentially one feeds the other. How? Leather is such a desirable product, that cows on factory farms are not just raised for meat, they are raised for meat and leather, equally. This way, farmers can profit from the sale of meat just as readily as they can from the sales of the leather byproduct from their animals.  This fact may have you raising the question, “well isn’t it good to be using every part of the animal?” And to that, we say: that’s exactly what society wants you to think. The reality of the matter, however, is that leather is immensely valuable to these industries, and are tightly linked economically. Leather is not produced to minimize waste on factory farms, it’s used to maximize revenue and profit, thereby perpetuating the industry rather than “lessening its impact” by making it waste-free.

Considering that meat production, as a whole, is far from sustainable, any ancillary support of this industry contributes to the environmental destruction it causes. Factory farming is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, occupies almost half of our land, and uses 23 percent of global freshwater. Not to mention, the process of creating leather involves a slew of toxic compounds.  Between the tanning, dyeing, and other finishing touches, you’d be shocked at all of the hazardous chemicals that go into making a seemingly simple leather product.

Just as it is imperative for people to lower their consumption of meat if we’re going to move away from the environmentally-straining, animal abuse-filled livestock industry and start moving towards the real future of food, it is important that we realize how intertwined leather is in the whole process. Considering that leather is worth ten percent of the total value of the cow, buying leather goods isn’t simply “purchasing scraps” from the meat industry that would have otherwise gotten thrown out, it’s actually ensuring that the entire operation remains profitable.

Modern Meadow has taken into account all of these factors and wants to completely take animals, and cruelty, out of the equation. After all, if we can achieve the same end result without the negative impact on our environment and animals, why wouldn’t we? Now it’s just up to the company to take the process and figure out a way to make it affordable to the mass market. We wait with bated breath.

Image Source: Pixabay