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How Leather Industry Harms the Environment

leather industry

Wherever you go, you will see different things which are made of leather. Jackets, shoes, bags, vests, and boots are often made of leather.

We use leather to decorate and encrust our everyday things such as purses, bracelets, keychains, and many others. We still use animals’ hides to protect us from the cold or heat, do dress ourselves up, and to cover our bodies like our ancestors did and we never think how our preferences affect our planet.

The Modern Leather Industry

modern leather industry

Our ancestors processed and used leather in a fully organic way but it has nothing to do with the modern leather industry. The leather itself is eco-friendlier than its synthetic analog or other materials from which we make our clothes. But now the Leather industry brings a lot of harm to the environment from the material gathering to the final painting and transportation.

The market share of the leather industry reaches eighty billion dollars and trades twenty-three billion square feet of leather annually. This enormous amount implies the death and skinning of millions of animals across the globe.

Cow leather is the most common leather type and it’s widely-known how animal farming harms our planet. Leather industry reduces the population of dozens of animal species including deer, buffaloes, cows, goats, kangaroos, endangered reptiles, sharks, crocodiles, tigers, lions, elephants, and snakes.

Different leather types have different characteristics and are used for different purposes but it doesn’t justify the undue violence and the specific nature of this industry. The leather industry uses cheap and environmentally-unsustainable processing methods in order to make a maximum profit at minimum cost.

Extremely Hazardous and Toxic Chemical Substances

leather is processed

Leather is processed with the use of extremely hazardous and toxic chemical substances which include limes, bleaches, melamine, aluminum salts, aluminum sulfates, glutaraldehyde, chromium, oxazolidinones, and chromium salts.

These chemical substances are used to make the leather softer, water-repellent, tougher and make it more resistant to heat and other weather conditions. But the production waste poisons the environment and the people who work in this industry.

Chemical substances pollute the environment, rivers, lakes, soil, and kill numerous live creatures in the nearest area. Leather tanning pollutes eighty cubic meters of freshwater per one ton of processed hides. Chromium salts and other heavy metals can cause cancer development among animals and people who are exposed to them. The leather industry pollutes vast areas of wild nature and affects all living creatures.

Vast Amounts of Pesticides


Vast amounts of pesticides are used to prevent the raw-hides from rotting and the mold. The final product cannot be considered as a safe product because many leather products still consist of harmful substances at the time of purchase.

Chromium is considered as a carcinogen and can cause various cancer-related diseases. The Leather industry has a huge share on the world’s market and its role is still very important.

The problems which the leather industry causes to our planet aren’t so enlightened as to the meat consumption and another animal farming-related environmental problems but the current environmental crisis does not allow us to ignore such large-scale problems.

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