VEG TANNED ORGANIC LEATHER VS CHROME TANNED LEATHER

Today, chrome tanning produces more than 90% of the world's leather, while traditional vegetable tanning has shrunk to less than 10%.  The process to tan leather with vegetable inputs can take more than a month (up to 1 year in the case of our traditional UK leather), while chemical methods reduce the time to less than a day on the industrial scale.  

TOXIC TANNING CONSEQUENCES

Most modern tanning operations use a chemical compound called chromium III, in addition to a slew of other chemicals.  While chromium tanning produces leather significantly faster and cheaper than vegetable tanning, it leaves lasting toxins in the leather and devastating environmental consequences in the unregulated countries where it is primarily made.  Wearing chromium leather leaches toxins into your skin over time.

WHY IS CHROMIUM TANNING SO BAD?

One of the biggest potential dangers comes in the form of airborne hexavalent chromium VI, which can occur as the chromium III compound oxidizes during tanning. Hexavalent chromium VI is a known occupational carcinogen, causing lung, nasal, and sinus cancers, as well as skin irritation, ulcers and other physical symptoms.  Workers in chrome tanning facilities in countries with little to no regulations suffer all of these symptoms, as well as considerable birth defects in future generations. 

In addition to manufacturing pollution and lasting toxicity, chrome tanned leather has a much shorter lifespan than veg tanned, due to the weakened collagen structure from the tanning process.  Even when well cared for, chrome leathers generally have a maximum life of 10 years before they begin to crack and degrade.  

THE SYNTHETIC CATCH 22

Often touted as "vegan" leather, petroleum derived leather substitutes also have considerable environmental consequences.  Originating from fossil fuels, petrochemical synthetic leathers like polyurethane and PVC are made by coating a thin layer of plastic over a fabric backing.  The production of the petrochemical plastics themselves produces harmful toxic fumes including isocyanates and dioxins, which are known to potentially cause cancer.  Flame retardant agents like hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) are known for accumulating in waterways, and have been shown to negatively affect the health and reproductive cycle of aquatic life.  HBCD has a half life of 182 days in water.

Petrochemical derived faux leathers are very short lived, cracking and tearing within months of use.  Once in a landfill, these synthetic leathers take over 500 years to biodegrade.

WHAT MAKES ORGANIC LEATHER BETTER?

After our organically sourced hides are sent to the tannery, they are tanned with mimosa and oak barks using age-old techniques, resulting in a superior quality and longevity.  Our leathers are rigorously tested to ensure that they contain no heavy metals or harmful chemicals.  The USA has strict environmental regulations on tanneries, and our partner facility has gone to extensive lengths to ensure that their environmental footprint is neutral.  We guarantee that Organic Leather not only comes from certified organic origins, but is traceable throughout the supply chain to safeguard that there have been no harmful inputs along the way.