If you’re a conscious shopper looking to make sustainable choices, you may have come across recycled leather as an alternative to traditional animal leather. Recycled leather is a relatively new material that is made by repurposing scraps of animal hides that would otherwise go to waste. With growing concern for the environment and interest in circular fashion and sustainable practices, recycled leather is now becoming a popular choice among consumers. (Of course, the most ethical and eco-friendly choice would be to buy your leather jacket from a thrift store.)
- What is Recycled Leather?
- Recycled Leather Brands
- Recycled Leather vs. Real Leather: Which One Should You Choose?
- Recycled Leather Products
- Is Recycled Leather Durable?
- Is Recycled Leather Sustainable?
- This post was about recycled leather
What is Recycled Leather?
The leather manufacturing industry produces a significant amount of solid waste. In fact, about 50% of the raw material becomes waste throughout the production process.
Recycling and reusing the “waste” leather scraps and offcuts can help reduce the demand for virgin leather and the harmful production processes associated with it. Leather scraps from the production of leather furniture, shoes, and old garments can be collected and repurposed to make new products.
How this is done is the collected waste leather is mulched into shreds, mixed with water, and then combined with binding agents like natural rubber and wood bark. The resulting leather pulp is formed into a sheet and processed mechanically to achieve a specific size, color, and texture.
Even whole leather scraps can be transformed into smaller accessories like bags, belts, and wallets. Using recycled leather items can provide all of the natural product’s best characteristics.
Several brands have already switched to using recycled leather in their products.
Recycled Leather Brands
Check out these brands that use recycled leather to make their products:
1 // Looptworks
Price: From $25
B-Corp | circular fashion
All of the materials Looptworks works with were originally headed to the landfill or the incinerator. Looptworks turns the recycled leather into high quality upcycled products, or downcycles them into home insulation or energy.
The Chalet Wool and Leather Zip Carry All is made from excess 100% wool and Danner leather, saving 119 gallons of water per bag.
2 // Wolf
Price: From $135
Jewelry Boxes & Travel Accessories
Wolf uses 100% recycled leather in all of their jewelry boxes.
3 // BEEN London
Price: From $38
Reforestation | zero emission local deliveries
Drawn to handcrafted, quality items made by real artists with generations of experience, Been London’s founder Genia Mineeva’s aim was to combine innovation in sustainability with local skills and heritage. Been London launched on Kickstarter and then SEEDRS in 2020, and this all-female team is based in London.
For every BEEN London bag purchased, the brand plants a tree. They have planted one acre of trees so far in the Peruvian Amazon.
4 // Crystalyn Kae
Price: From $68
Zero waste | made in USA
Crystalyn Kae’s recycled leather bags and accessories are created from factory leather offcuts and leather rescued from Manhattan’s Garment District.
5 // Deadwood Studios
6 // Remade USA
7 // Paperthinks
Recycled Leather vs. Real Leather: Which One Should You Choose?
Let’s compare recycled leather and real leather, so we can make an informed decision when shopping for leather products. We’ll look at the manufacturing process, environmental impact, and style.
Real leather is made from the hide of an animal, typically cows. The hides are first cleaned, then put through a leather tanning process, and finally dyed to achieve the desired color. This process can take up to several weeks to complete, and it requires a significant amount of resources, including water, chemicals, and energy.
Recycled leather, on the other hand, is made by taking scraps of leather and bonding them together using an adhesive. The scraps can come from any leather products, from shoes to handbags. The result is a material that looks and feels like real leather but is more sustainable.
The traditional leather production process has a significant impact on the environment. The tanning process alone is responsible for large amounts of water pollution, and the chemicals used can also harm wildlife and human health. Additionally, the amount of waste generated in the process is substantial.
Recycled leather, on the other hand, is a slightly more sustainable alternative. By reusing scraps of leather that would otherwise end up in a landfill, the amount of waste generated is reduced. Additionally, the manufacturing process for recycled leather uses fewer resources and generates less pollution.
When it comes to style, both real leather and recycled leather have their unique qualities. Real leather has a classic look that never goes out of style, and it has a natural grain that’s hard to replicate. Recycled leather, on the other hand, can come in a variety of colors and textures, and it’s often less expensive than real leather.
Recycled Leather Products
These recycled leather products can be on your must-buy list for the next time you need some of these items!
1 // Opus Mind Circular Backpack
This circular backpack is made from recycled leather that is certified and traceable, and has been made waterproof, scratch-resistant & lighter-weight. The backpack is designed to be durable, and has been handcrafted by artisans in Italy.
2 // Deadwood Racer Jacket
This stylish jacket is made from 100% recycled leather from leftover material. The lining fabric is from recycled plastic bottles. This would be a great choice for winter, and will last for a good number of years (or even decades!).
3 // Oleada Reverie Hobo
The Reverie Hobo is a simple and versatile bag made from scrap recycled leather. It features multiple interior and exterior pockets with a laptop compartment that fits a 13″ laptop. The adjustable shoulder strap converts the bag into a handbag, a satchel, or a crossbody style bag, depending on your mood.
Oleada Reverie Hobo Review: “Who would guess that this gorgeous bag would hold my 13″ laptop? Not me, but it fits perfectly! I love this bag and its functionality, with multiple organizational pockets and a strap that can go over-the-should or cross-body. Just sublime!”
Is Recycled Leather Durable?
Real leather is known for its durability and strength. It’s resistant to tearing, stretching, and puncturing, and it can last for years with proper care. However, it can be prone to discoloration and can absorb moisture, which can lead to mold and mildew.
Recycled leather is also durable but not as much as real leather. It’s more prone to cracking and peeling, and it’s not as resistant to stains and water damage. However, it’s still a viable option for products that don’t require as much durability, such as fashion accessories or home decor.
Is Recycled Leather Sustainable?
Is recycled leather actually a sustainable option? The answer to this question is a bit complicated, as it depends on the specific production process and the materials used. However, in general, recycled leather can be a more sustainable option than traditional animal leather.
1 / Recycled Leather Means Less Waste
Recycled leather reduces waste and utilizes materials that might otherwise be discarded. This makes it a more environmentally friendly option, as it reduces the amount of resources needed to produce new materials. In addition, recycled leather can be made using less water and energy than traditional leather, further reducing its environmental impact.
2 / Less Harmful Chemicals
Another benefit of recycled leather is that it can be made without the use of harmful chemicals. Traditional leather production involves the use of chemicals such as chromium, which can be toxic to workers and harmful to the environment. Recycled leather, on the other hand, can be made without the use of these harmful chemicals, making it a safer and more sustainable option.
However, it is important to note that..
3 / Not All Recycled Leather is Created Equal
Some recycled leather is made by grinding up scraps of leather and then reconstituting them with synthetic materials. This can result in a material that is less durable and more prone to cracking and peeling. Some recycled leather may still require the use of harmful chemicals in the production process.
To ensure that you’re making a truly sustainable choice, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable brand that uses high-quality recycled leather and environmentally-friendly production methods.
This post was about recycled leather
By choosing sustainably produced recycled leather, you can help reduce waste and make a more eco-friendly choice for your wardrobe. If you prioritize sustainability and eco-friendliness, then recycled leather is the way to go.
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NOTE: All brand photographs belong to the respective brands/businesses.
All reviews included in this post are verified reviews taken from the respective brand websites.
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