There are some very good reasons to avoid using leather in your home or wardrobe, It’s bad for the animals, for the planet and for your health. In addition, there has been tremendous progress in sustainable and cruelty-free leather options in the market and you can now buy everything from vegan leather accessories and boots to alternatives made from canvas!

However, most shoes, boots, handbags, upholstery, wallets, belts, coats, jewelry, etc are made from leather, which means there is a lot of leather out there to be repurposed.

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Here are some ideas for what you can do with any old leather items in your home, while making sure you avoid buying any new leather going forward!

Old leather belt

Source: huntingmark/Creative Commons

1. Leather Belts

Leather belts are extremely easy to repurpose as there is ever the need for durable straps. They could be repurposed as carry bags or camera straps. They could be converted into dog collars or bracelets. Cut into strips, they can be nailed to drawers as pulls or attached to cabinets as hinges. Big collections of leather belts could be used as the strapping for chair bottoms.

2. Leather Jackets

Vintage leather jacket

Source: Grant Wickes/Creative Commons

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Jackets have enough material that, for even novices of the sewing needles, they can be repurposed into an assortment of things. Leather bags are a common destiny for repurposed leather jackets. Another option is a simple wallet, and another is notebook cover. An old, especially worn jacket could be cut into small strips and braided into jewelry.

3. Leather Shoes/Boots

Leather shoes and boots are amongst the most common incarnations of leather in the modern world. Using leather for these is so typical that not having leather in our shoes or boots takes a concerted effort. Old shoes and boots can be repurposed as kooky planters. If the soles have worn out on dress shoes, the broken in leather can be collected and sewn together as pillows, bags, and so on.

4. Leather Upholstery

Upholstery, say from cars or couches or comfy chairs, is a huge amount of material. This could be used to make quilts, rugs, or clothing. It could be converted into upholstery for smaller items, such as kitchen chair bottoms and backs, ottomans or benches. And, of course, bags, wallets, jewelry and all of the other, smaller items listed above could be constructed of repurposed upholstery leather.

5. Leather Wallets

In general, leather wallets have an extremely long lifespan, more likely needing repair of zippers and such as opposed to the leather giving out. Really worn leather wallets could be cut into pieces and used for strong ties in the garden or workshop. They could become hinges or pulls for DIY furniture. They could become bookmarks. More so, “new” leather wallets are something to make from repurposed leather—footballs or gloves make interesting wallets—rather than a source of it.

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Shoe repair store

Source: joannapoe/Creative Commons

6. Leather Repair & Recycling

Renown for its durability, if something constructed of leather has some blemishes, it’s probably worth going to a professional—cobbler or tailor—to see if an item can be repaired before dismantling it.

If it’s too late to repair, lots of clothing, including shoes and boots, can be recycled. Leather goods fall within this category. There are companies that specialized in recycled leather. Though most of these use the offcuts from new manufacturing, the use of older leather is certainly a thing and gaining more regularity.

No matter how we may personally feel about using and/or wearing leather, it’s hard to argue against making the most of what’s already here. We can promote new, cruelty-free versions of leather, but that doesn’t change the fact that the planet needs us to repurpose as much as we can. The more we repurpose, repair and recycle leather the less demand there will be for new leather. That’s probably a good thing.

Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose and DIY Recommended Resources:

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