If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you’ve probably noticed that it’s getting a bit chilly. Colder weather requires warmer clothes, and while everyone has their personal preferences for what they like to wear, the materials in which those clothes are usually the same across the board. Leather and fur are considered ‘winter textiles’, but they are not considered ‘ethical textiles’. 

Hundreds of millions of animals are killed annually to produce leather and fur goods. Environmentally, leather and fur are about as unsustainable as they come. The leather industry uses high volumes of toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and requires significant amounts of water. The fur industry also utilizes toxic substances and is energy-draining. 

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It can be overwhelming to think about how detrimental and cruel both industries are, but it’s important to recognize that our love for the products they produce doesn’t justify or minimize the pain and death they cause.  

Here are a few alternatives to keep yourself warm while still following your moral compass. 

Eco-Friendly Faux Fur 

Faux fur has come a long way and looks even more real while being even more eco-friendly. Yes, animals are “natural,” but killing them then dousing them in chemicals is not. There are several brands out there working hard to make realistic but environmentally-kind faux fur garments that you can wrap yourself up in as the seasons change. 

Calcaterra makes their faux fur from recycled plastic bottles and Ksenia Schnaider turns old denim into new furry pieces, so check them out if you want to see how innovative designs are going fur-free. 

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Mushroom Leather

Mushroom leather is a durable, non-toxic, and entirely vegan substitute for animal hide leather. The textile is made from the mushroom mycelium, not the actual mushrooms themselves. The mycelium are fantastic underground networks that help the world function. They also happen to make fantastic leather that brands are rushing to get their hands on. 

There are quite a few mushroom leather options on Etsy to choose from, and if you’re in the market for a pair of sneakers to invest in, we recommend the nat-2™ Fungi brown white shoes from Coilex. 

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Waxed Canvas

Waxed canvas garments are often sold as a leather alternative, but it’s also a fantastic option even if you’re just looking for something strong, water-resistant, and that will age as gracefully as we all hope to one day. This alternative is also warm, so it’s perfect for bundling up. While brands usually use synthetic wax to coat the cotton, some opt for beeswax instead, so keep an eye out for that if you want your purchase to be entirely vegan. 

We also recommend going with organic waxed cotton if you can because it’s more eco-friendly than its conventional cousin. 

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Pineapple Leather (Piñatex) 

Piñatex pineapple leather has been becoming more readily available and brands make the switch from animal to plant products. Pineapple leather is made from pineapple leaf fibers, which is a by-product of the industry. 

The brand Altiir is making stylish leather jackets made from the fruity fabric that is sure to impress. 

Is Secondhand Fur and Leather Better? 

Secondhand animal textiles may be a better option for you, depending on what your final goal is. If you want to enjoy the quality of leather (and fur) but want nothing to do with supporting the industries directly, then yes, they are a far better option. However, if you’re concerned about not encouraging wearing animal skins and continuing to normal the industries, you might want to opt for the fully-vegan alternative. 

With that being said, buying anything secondhand, even if it’s leather or fur, is always the better option. 

In Conclusion

You don’t have to buy leather and fur this winter when there are so many fantastic eco-friendly options on the market. Animals do not exist for our consumption, and skinning them to turn into a jacket we’ll only wear a handful of times is far from worth it. Whether you’re wrapping yourself up in a Piñatex jacket or experimenting with creative faux furs, we’re sure you’ll find the right way to stay toasty this season while remaining ethical. 

Good luck!

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