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Why we use vegan leather for our bags?

As every Journey naturally evolves, so does ours. 

We believe it's essential not only to avoid harming animals but also to recognise that animal leather requires significantly more water and chemicals to produce. Leather production, often deemed a by-product of the meat industry, presents itself as an environmental conundrum. While some argue that the tanning industry is merely repurposing a product that would otherwise end up in landfills, the devastating truth lies in the environmental havoc caused by the prevalent use of Chromium in leather production. Chromium-tanned leather, the industry's favored method, relies on a toxic slush of Chromium salts and tanning liquor. For example, Kanpur, India - the self proclaimed ''Leather City of the World'' this city once housed more than 10,000 tanneries which, in 2003, were dumping more than 22 tons of effluence into the Ganges river everyday. The city acted in 2009, sealing 49 of the highest-polluting tanneries in town - out of a list of 404 heavy polluters.

Leather has been a staple in fashion for centuries, valued for its durability, versatility, and timeless appeal. Renowned for its high-quality texture and luxurious feel, leather has been used to craft everything from elegant handbags and shoes to jackets and accessories. Its natural strength and resilience make it a preferred material for items that need to withstand daily wear and tear while maintaining a sophisticated look.

Leather's ability to age beautifully adds to its charm, developing a unique patina over time that enhances its character. This longevity makes leather goods a worthwhile investment, as they often last for many years, if not decades. Additionally, leather's natural breathability and comfort make it an ideal choice for clothing and accessories, providing both style and practicality.

Leather has long been valued for its benefits and tradition in manufacturing processes and craftsmanship. It stands for quality, and we deeply appreciate this heritage. However, we believe that innovation is essential. We cannot continue to produce large quantities of leather, especially when it sometimes costs less than vegan alternatives. We need to make leather a limited, valuable resource and explore new ways to create high-quality, luxury products.

We recommend reading this article from PETA.

In the quest for more sustainable and ethical fashion, vegan leather has emerged as a game-changer. Traditional leather production, tied closely to the meat industry, has significant environmental and ethical drawbacks.

Vegan leather, on the other hand, offers innovative alternatives that are both stylish and planet-friendly. In this blog post, we'll explore the various vegan leather options available and explain why they are better for the environment compared to traditional leather and why we decided to go for cactus leather in our first bag production. 

What is Vegan Leather?

Vegan leather, also known as faux leather or synthetic leather, is made from a variety of materials that do not involve animal products. These materials range from plant-based options to synthetic compounds designed to mimic the look and feel of real leather. While vegan leather is a promising alternative to traditional leather, offering benefits such as cruelty-free production and innovative material use, it also has its disadvantages. Issues with durability, environmental impact, breathability, aesthetics, cost, chemical use, and temperature sensitivity are important considerations. As technology and materials continue to evolve, the goal is to minimize these drawbacks and make vegan leather an even more viable option for sustainable and ethical fashion.

We don't want to give the impression that vegan leather is the perfect option—it has its drawbacks, and we acknowledge that. However, with your support, we strive to improve. We're committed to optimising costs, refining production methods, and partnering only with suppliers who value nature and take care of our environment.

So, let's dive into the options and the materials we have chosen:

1. PU (Polyurethane) Leather

Polyurethane leather is one of the most common types of vegan leather. It is made by coating a fabric, usually polyester or cotton, with a layer of polyurethane. This material is durable, versatile, and can be made to resemble different types of animal leather.

Environmental Impact: While PU leather is not biodegradable, its production requires less energy and water compared to traditional leather tanning processes. Innovations in manufacturing are also reducing its environmental footprint.

2. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Leather

PVC leather is another widely used synthetic leather. It involves coating fabric with PVC and adding plasticizers to make it flexible. Although not as environmentally friendly as PU leather, it is a more affordable option.

Environmental Impact: PVC production involves toxic chemicals and is less eco-friendly. However, advancements in green chemistry are improving its sustainability.

3. Pineapple Leather (Piñatex)

Piñatex is a revolutionary material made from the fibers of pineapple leaves, which are a byproduct of pineapple farming. This sustainable option utilizes agricultural waste, turning it into a durable and leather-like material.

Environmental Impact: Piñatex is biodegradable and promotes a circular economy by repurposing agricultural waste. Its production has a low environmental impact and supports sustainable farming practices.

4. Cactus Leather

Cactus leather is made from the leaves of the Nopal cactus. This innovative material is known for its durability, flexibility, and resemblance to traditional leather.

Environmental Impact: Cactus leather is a highly sustainable option as cacti require minimal water to grow. The production process is eco-friendly and the material is partially biodegradable.

5. Mushroom Leather (Mycelium)

Mushroom leather is derived from the root structure of mushrooms, called mycelium. This material is grown in labs and is customizable in terms of thickness and texture.

Environmental Impact: Mycelium leather is biodegradable and its production is highly sustainable, requiring little water and energy. It is a promising material for reducing the fashion industry's environmental footprint.

Why Vegan Leather is Better for the Environment

1. Reduced Carbon Footprint

The production of traditional leather involves raising livestock, which significantly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Vegan leather, especially plant-based options, has a much lower carbon footprint, helping to mitigate climate change.

2. Lower Water Usage

Tanning leather requires large amounts of water and generates harmful waste. In contrast, many vegan leather alternatives, such as cactus and mushroom leather, require minimal water for their production, conserving this precious resource.

3. No Toxic Chemicals

Leather tanning involves toxic chemicals that can pollute water sources and harm ecosystems. Vegan leather production often avoids these harmful substances, resulting in a cleaner, safer manufacturing process.

4. Waste Reduction

Plant-based vegan leathers utilize agricultural byproducts, reducing waste and promoting a circular economy. This approach not only minimizes environmental impact but also adds value to existing resources.

5. Animal Welfare

Choosing vegan leather eliminates the ethical concerns associated with animal farming and leather production. It supports cruelty-free fashion, aligning with the values of many environmentally-conscious consumers.

Our conclusion and why we decided to go with Cactus

Vegan leather is not just a trend; it's a vital step towards a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry. With a variety of innovative materials available, from pineapple and cactus leather to mushroom mycelium, there are countless ways to incorporate vegan leather into your wardrobe. By choosing vegan leather, you’re not only making a stylish statement but also supporting a healthier planet.

Choosing cactus leather over for example PU leather for our first bag, is a decision that benefits the environment, aligns with ethical standards, and provides high-quality, durable products. By opting for cactus leather, we want to support a more sustainable future, reduce our ecological footprint, and contribute to the growing demand for innovative, eco-friendly materials in the fashion industry.

Stay tuned for your first Coneli bag and for more insights and tips on sustainable fashion. Let's drive change together and embrace a future where style and sustainability go hand in hand.

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