To Tan Ethically
Our primary focus at Organic Leather is on how our leather is tanned as that is where we can best prevent further toxicity entering our environment and our bodies. Our organic leather is free from chrome, metal, formaldehyde, sodium sulphide, glutaraldenhyde and sulphuric acid which are all usually found in regularly tanned leathers and tanneries. We are very aware of how polluting and harmful tanneries are to the environment and we intend to help to reverse this damage step by step every way we can.
Our tanneries only use natural materials to cure, preserve and tan leather, these are all natural biodegradable tanning materials such as bark tannins, plant tannins, lime or smoke which allows us to keep this process 100% environmentally friendly, so much so that the run off from one of the tannery's we work with goes straight out on to a read bed and then to the fields where they raise their sheep. The natural tanning process takes any where form 5 weeks to 12 months (regular chrome tanning takes less than a week). It is still hard to find people willing to put in the time and effort to do this, but the numbers are growing and the word is spreading.
Organic leather hide is the leather that comes form organically raised cows, raised on open pasture lands (with organic feed when necessary in the winter months). The farms we work with are all certified organic.
We then organically tan the hide, using Oak bark or vegetable tannins to preserve the leather, and natural oils (from fish/animals or bees wax's) to finish it.
We are currently working with farms in both the US and the UK-
These hides come from the U.S and at this point it is not possible to track their exact source (hence the Eco Leather labeling). The pre-tanning is done in South America using farm bred mimosa, and then finished using plant based dyes in our US factory which is held to some of the most stringent environmental laws in the world. Our eco leather offers one of the best selections of eco-colors found anywhere and is 99% free of heavy metals and chemicals.
We also keep a constant look out for reclaimed leather from out dated garments, we use this leather (or suede) as accents to some of our designs. (please contact us if you have a source) firstname.lastname@example.org
To Certify Or Not To Certify
Organic farming in essence excludes or strictly limits the use of manufactured fertilizers, pesticides, livestock antibiotics, food additives, genetically modified organisms etc.. yet as in the words so well said by Wendell Berry "An organic farm, properly speaking, is not one that uses certain methods and substances and avoids others; it is a farm whose structure is formed in imitation of the structure of a natural system that has the integrity, the independence and the benign dependence of an organism". The Gift of Good Land
When it comes to tanneries we cannot help but feel the same way as no real certifications exist in this industry as of yet. There are however amazing tanneries that adhere to natural systems in which the process is organic from start to finish.
Which is why at Organic Leather we are more about telling the stories and creating transparency so that the industry can keep evolving. What we care about is that people are taking responsibility for their actions and evolving them as they find better ways (some are better environmentally and others are better in terms of the animal treatment etc..) but the key here is to keep moving forward in to better and more conscious ways of doing things. We are all about encouraging and putting in motion what we consider ethical farming, ethical tanning and ultimately ethical fashion!
We are very conscientious about where our hides are coming from and have chosen the farms that we work with very carefully. We are strong supporters and promoters of small family farms and businesses and believe they hold an important resonance on our earth. The farms we work with manage their live stock organically throughout their entire lives, they predominantly live on open pastures, with organic feed when necessary in the winter months. They also adhere to high moral and ethical principles of hygienic standards which ensure exemplary standards of animal welfare. Our farms are subject to random and regular inspections to ensure that all specifications are upheld - see certifications.
"Wild Beef" the farm that we developed this process with is a certified organic British farm situated in Devon and run by Richard and Lizzy Vines. Richard and lizzy are two of the most wonderful people we have met on our journey and they inspire us everyday to keep doing the work we do.
If you happen to be in the UK why not try their beef which is absolutely fabulous!:
From Farm To Finish
Organic leather still only exists in very small quantities and is expensive in comparison to regular leather or eco leather, one of the main reasons is that the farms and tanneries are seldom close to each other and the hide markets dont separate their hides out � We are in the process of developing and helping create direct channels between organic farms and tanneries, thus putting in motion the essential pathways for organic hides and organic tanneries to come together. The path between the Farm and the tannery is not at all direct, the cattle, and then the hides go through numerous hands- and so far tracking the individual hides as they go through this process has been tricky - we have however managed and work with British family farms that are close to our tannery which allows us track our hides from farm to finish and helps us keep our carbon footprint to a minimum (wherever we can). Our organic leather is some of the cleanest and best leather available on the market today.
Bringing Them Together
Our first priority is to our environment and not adding any further pollution to it through tanning (since the leather itself is a by product of an existing industry - the meat industry) this is the first area where we can really have an impact in changing things and making a difference. Now that we have this in place and are able to supply an organically tanned and environmentally friendly product, our next step is to start improving other aspects of the chain such as the path between farms and tanneries. This path is seldom direct and that is why it is still so hard to find organic leather. We are in the process of coming up with better ways of tracking larger amounts of hides from several organic farms and believe that within the year we will have a much better tracking system. We are achieving this by creating a direct link between several organic farms and tanneries. Our intention is to bring these two worlds together, while making the larger community of tanneries and designers aware of these options.
When we cant track a hide from farm to finish we label it as eco leather as it is still tanned organically and free from chemicals.