Verband der Deutschen Lederindustrie e.V.

Renouncing leather?

Helsinki Fashion Week: Certain groups make us believe renouncing leather means no more suffering animals in the world. Is that such simple?

Meat industry:

  • The renunciation of leather means that the meat industry will not be able to use the hide/skin as a by-product, it has to be disposed. The meat industry will not be pleased, as instead of generating revenue from a valuable by-product, they would have incured costs for their disposal.

Grasslands and nutrition of humans:

  • There are 5.25 billion hectares of grassland worldwide, almost 40 % of the land area. Grasslands can only be used by ruminants. The digestive system of ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats, roes, giraffes, moose …) is able to solubilize/dissolve the grass, to utilize cellulose. The digestive system of humans cannot do that. This system makes grasslands via meat and milk accessible to the human diet.
  • Grassland cannot be used as arable land. The abolition of grassland (and increasing agriculture) leads to dehydration and soil erosion, especially in arid areas (such as the Sahel).
  • Non-arable soils, such as the Mongolian steppe about 313,000 km², the South American pampas <500,000 km², the African savanna and others, are used for human nutrition despite drought with grazing by ruminants. Long term grassland withstands floods and drought better than cropland or short term grassland.
  • The renunciation of leather, meat, milk and thus on cattle, has the consequence that the vegetation changes, it comes to bush and forest encroachment.
  • Permanent grassland can capture and bind CO2 very well.
  • Products like milk, cheese, yoghurt are often the only food rich in proteins over ruminants for malnourished children in developed economically weakly areas.
  • Grain residues, oilseed cakes, that are by-products of the plant production, can be utilized about the feeding of animals. The FAO also sees only two ways for global food security: higher percentage of proteins produced by grazing and utilization of by-products for animal nutrition („FAO “World Livestock 2011”).
  • And: Fields without keeping of animals leads to less variety of species.

Suffering from animals:

  • Where is the connection between the suffering from animals and the use of leather? Worldwide, European and national there is a lot of commitment to animal protection and animal welfare. That is the right way.
  • Cruelty to animals – neither in private nor in business. And: Only animals, which feel well, are healthy and stay healthy. It’s about animals and humans.

Leather industry:

  • If leather is no longer bought, the animal skins must be disposed. Tanneries cannot produce any longer. Leather must be replaced.
  • Leather substitutes such as plastic, textiles etc. cannot be produced without harming the environment, are not free of pollutants, if they should have the desired properties. This also applies to materials from mushrooms, pineapple, etc.
  • There is no material till now that corresponds to leather. Many leather substitutes fulfill some of the qualities of leather. Till now leather is so close to the human skin, is so natural that substitutes do not create this.
  • Leather replacement only produced from materials of pineapple, mushrooms or similar are not hardly representable due to the suitability, the quantities and most probably as well due to the costs.
  • Leather products usually need care, for this, they are very long-lasting. Compared with products made of substitutes they are generally less long-lasting and therefore less sustainable.
  • No leather anymore means more plastic and synthetic fibers? Don`t we have already enough problems with plastic waste in the seas?

For centuries leather has been a natural material appreciated by human. The animal as a farm animal, it was always a part of human life. Only if animals are treated well, as long as they do not suffer, they are healthy, they supply us with healthy food and usable by-products. Beautyful leather comes from healthy animals. We stay for a responsible agriculture. We stay for leather!