We know that people often have questions about the thoughts and motivations that go into what we at avesu are trying to do.
Sustainable, fair, and vegan: those are the principles on which avesu is based.
We created this part of our website to provide our customers with a comprehensive resource on everything they’d like to know about vegan, ethical shoes, avesu itself, and of course avesu’s own ethical policies.
We hope you’ll not just find the answers to your burning questions, but also interesting
informa- tion and perspectives on things you might never thought to ask about. It may be that even after reading
this section you still have a question or two that you’d like to ask.
If that’s the case, please do get in touch! This section will continue to be updated as we are asked more interesting questions and add relevant information as it becomes available to us.
We tried to collect the most common questions about this issue. We understand that there is much information needed.
Photos © KARREMANN for PETA
Contrary to popular belief, leather (or indeed any other animal product commonly used to manufacture shoes) is not a by-product of the meat and dairy industry, but a commercially valuable good in its own right. This means that animals must be bred and slaughtered in large numbers to support the demand.
All the standard environmental and ethical arguments against the consumption of meat and dairy apply equally to the production of leather, such as CO2 emissions, factory farming, monocultures, deforestation to grow animal feed and the moral issue of breeding to slaughter..
Non-leather alternatives also avoid the environmental issues associated with both the vegetable and chemical leather tanning processes.
Another factor to remember is the considerable money made from animal skins – after all, it is the most valuable part of the animal by weight, and according to research by PETA, bovine leather represents 50% of the slaughtered cow’s entire commercial value. .
Consequentially, there is an increasing reliance on the money made through selling skins, even in parts of the world where the meat is highly valued.
Even India, for example, a country where the consumption of beef is still somewhat taboo among a large portion of the Hindu population, has a massive leather industry, which involves extensive and illegal transport of animals across states and ultimate slaughter. Their skins are then largely sold to the international market.
The point to remember is this: when you buy leather, you may as well be buying meat. Where high-end leather is concerned, especially for jackets, bags or boots, this leather often comes from animals bred for their skin and it is the meat that is the by-product. Leather means suffering, artificial insemination, captivity and slaughter. avesu is there to provide you with an attractive, happier alternative.
There is a wide range of non-bovine leathers and skins on the market today. However, ethical arguments in favour are of questionable substance:
| As organic material, these skins must still go through a chemicals-intensive tanning process, no matter whether this is called “vegetable tanning” or not.
| As organic material produced from living beings, any environmental advantage of using skins from animal X as opposed to animal Y will be comparably minimal. Similarly, leather is still made from animal skins, meaning that the usual ethical arguments against animal husbandry and slaughter still apply.
| Despite some claims to the contrary, these skins are no more by-products than bovine leather. On the contrary, there are “luxury” leathers, such as ostrich skin, and 80% of the value of a slaughtered ostrich comes from their skin.
| Because some of the animals that are used for luxury leathers like alligators or kangaroos are relatively exotic to us, it is easy to imagine them living in the wild and far away from animal farming facilities. Bear in mind though that all these animals, just like cattle, are specifically bred in facilities in large numbers and systematically killed in order to increase turnaround and commercial output.
Some might think that because
animal skin is a natural product, leather must be environmentally friendly and the production is a natural
process. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Vegetable tanning is often marketed as that much-needed, more environmentally friendly and natural alternative to chrome tanning. Vegetable tanning uses conventional methods involving only natural products during the dyeing process, resulting in a look many find aesthetically pleasing.
Despite the spin, it should be noted that vegetable tanning is identical to chrome tanning in every way except the source of the colour, and industry representatives have admitted that it is just as ecologically damaging.
Vegetable tanning is a very resource- and time-intensive process (15 to 30 months, depending on the method used), and a mass of approximately 30 kg of bark, 20 kg of fruit or 90 kg of oak and used over this time. The amounts of water involved are phenomenal, and this immediately offsets any supposed environmental benefits. Much like the proportion of factory farming in relation to the allegedly ‘high-welfare’, organic ideal, only 5% of all tanning done is vegetable tanning.
Given all of the above factors, vegetable tanning could never be expected to replace chrome tanning, as it simply would not be economically or environmentally sustainable. Instead, it remains largely a luxury for those who prefer the aesthetic or enjoy the false belief that it is less environmentally harmful than conventional chrome tanning.
Photos © KARREMANN for PETA