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Many people shun and refuse to wear fur because of the gruesome ways in which animals suffer and are killed for their skin. But what about leather?
Most consumers are not aware of the cruelty to animals involved in the leather industry or of the detrimental environmental effects of leather production. Designer Stella McCartney, who does not use any leather in her fashion line, explains why she has shed leather in this shocking video exposé of the leather industry. Stella's video for PETA provides consumers with the facts so that they can make informed decisions before buying products made from leather.
Cows Suffer Immensely in the Leather Industry
Many of the millions of cows and other animals who are killed for their skins endure the horrors of factory farming, including extreme crowding and deprivation as well as castration, branding, tail-docking and dehorning – all without any painkillers. Because skin is the most economically important co-product of the meat industry, buying leather directly supports the horrors of factory farming.
A large amount of leather comes from developing countries such as India and China, where animal welfare laws are either non-existent or not enforced. In India, an investigation found that workers break cows' tails and rub chilli peppers and tobacco into their eyes in order to force them to get up and walk after they collapse from exhaustion on the way to the abattoir. At abattoirs, animals routinely have their throats cut and are skinned and dismembered while they are still conscious.
In addition to promoting animal suffering, leather production is also harmful to the environment. In order to preserve animals' skin, companies use tons of toxic chemicals that can end up in nearby soil and water supplies. Turning skin into leather requires massive amounts of energy and dangerous chemicals, including formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives and various oils, dyes and finishes, some of them cyanide-based.
Because of the massive amounts of manure and slaughter waste, intensive water use, deforestation, and greenhouse-gas emissions involved in its production, leather is the most environmentally damaging material, as confirmed by the 2017 “Pulse of the Fashion Industry” report.
Indeed, the United Nations is calling for a transition away from animal agriculture – which is responsible for nearly a fifth of human-induced greenhouse-gas emissions – in order to protect the environment.
Say "No" to Leather
"As a designer, I like to work with fabrics that don't bleed; that's why I avoid all animal skins", Stella says. "Please join me in exploring the huge variety of fashionable shoes, belts, purses and wallets that aren't the product of a cow's violent death. You can buy cruelty-free fashion all over the place now, since demand is always increasing as people learn the dark truth about the fur and leather and exotic-skins trade."
Join Stella in saying "No" to leather by pledging to wear only your own skin and to let animals keep theirs.