(Leather) has been used for thousands of years because it is durable, versatile, and ages beautifully, although just because it is ubiquitous does not mean it is always the best choice. Advancements in technology have created many (faux leather) options for those who object to the cruelty of animals and want an eco-friendly alternative. Man-made materials such as PVC and polyurethane as well as natural resources like cork bark and recycled polyester are all great choices for (faux leather) products. Each material has pros and cons, so it is important to research each product in order to make the choice that is right for you.
The Controversy of Using Leather
Because (leather) is made from animal skin, many people find it to be a controversial material. (Leather) is made by preparing the hide of animals (usually cow, sheep, or lamb) through the process of tanning. (Leather) is a popular choice for furniture, car interiors, and clothing such as gloves and jackets because it ages well and becomes softer and more comfortable over time. Fans of (real leather) love the expensive look and believe that it retains warmth much better than its faux counterpart.
People who are against (leather) have valid reasons-the (leather) industry is closely tied to the meat industry, which is known to be particularly cruel to animals. Most animals that are killed for their skin suffer as the process is carried out, and many people feel that such cruelty is unnecessary when synthetic materials are so readily available. In addition to the cruelty aspect of (leather), it has been known to be hazardous to human health. Many of the chemicals that are used in the preserving process are linked to nausea, headaches, asthma, respiratory infections, and other serious illnesses.
Faux vs. Authentic
(Faux leather) is usually made out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethane, or polyamide microfiber. Polyurethane and polyamide microfiber tend to be easier to clean than PVC, which does not breathe very well and can be difficult to care for. (Faux leather) made from polyurethane is generally regarded as being environmentally friendly and safe to use, whereas PVC is notoriously bad for the environment and your health. During the process of creating PVC, the main components are released into the air and become pollutants. It also leaches toxic chemicals into the ground when placed it landfills and emits toxic gasses when burned in an incinerator. When it comes in contact with people, PVC leaches toxic chemicals that are known to create a myriad of health problems. However, there are green (faux leather) alternatives-cork, made from the bark of the cork tree, and ultrasuede, created from scraps of polyester, are growing in popularity as the dangers of PVC are becoming more well-known.
Traditional (faux leather) is also much less durable than (real leather) and tends to last only a fraction of the time. Plastic easily cracks and fades with use, whereas (real leather) develops a patina with age. Nevertheless, (faux leather) is a common choice for furniture upholstery. Caring for faux (leather furniture) is very easy-it can usually be cleaned once a week by wiping gently with a microfiber cloth and a solution of water mixed with a small amount of dish soap. Real (leather furniture) is a little more challenging to clean, because it is very important that it doesn't dry out. It should be gently washed with a moisturizing soap and frequently wiped down with a nourishing oil (such as linseed) to keep the (leather) in tip-top shape.
(Real leather) is often described as being more environmentally friendly than faux, but that is not necessarily true. Although the chemicals used in (faux leather) are very harmful, the process of turning animal hide into (leather) also uses dangerous substances. Formaldehyde, mineral salts, cyanide-based dyes, and coal-tar derivatives are often used to preserve leather, all of which are hazardous. Even if (leather) wasn't produced with dangerous chemicals it would still be bad for the environment, because it takes an enormous amount of energy to raise cattle. In fact, cattle production is the number one cause of climate change.
Learn more about real and faux leather:
- Why Choose Leather Sofas?
- Peta: The Leather Industry
- Guide for Leather and Imitation Leather Products
- Commission Approves Retention of Leather Guides in Their Current Form
- About Leather
- Hardened Leather FAQ
- All About Leather
- Buying Leather
- Leather Consumer Guide
- The Ethics of Leather
- Is Wearing Leather Ever OK?
- Leather vs. PVC
- About Leather: the History and Mystery of Common Things
- Different Kinds of Leather FAQ
- About Faux Leather
- Leather Furniture Care Tips
- Is PVC Safe?
- Eliminating PVC In Your Home
- Guide to Leather
- Taking Care of Sheepskin
- Faux Leather FAQ
- Bonded Leather Sofas vs. Genuine Leather- What's the Difference?
- Caring for Leather Furniture
by: Kylie Richardson