Contrary to popular belief, leather is often not a by-product of the food agriculture industry. Each year over one billion animals worldwide are slaughtered for their skins by the leather industry. Many animals are bred in factory farms for their skins, while others are hunted in the wild.
The leather industry itself is inherently cruel. Those animals raised in factory farms experience the same conditions as animals raised for meat – overcrowding, mutilation without pain relief, and an inability to carry out natural behaviours. Some animals in the wild are skinned alive, while others have their throats slit while conscious.
Leather is generally not labelled unless it is a so-called ‘exotic’ skin, such as crocodile. Animals whose skins are made into leather include: cattle including Slink (unborn calves), sheep, goats, pigs (including Peccary – wild pig from Central and South America), elephants, seal, ostrich, frogs, shark, fish, camels, cats, dogs, lizards, snakes, eel (known as Silk Of The Ocean), dolphins, kangaroos, cane toads, horses, stingray (Shagreen), sea turtles (neck and flippers), zebras, mules, donkeys, possum, alligator, crocodile, buffalo (bison), deer, elk, wallaby, walrus, emu and chicken.
Leather goods are everywhere, from boots, wallets, and handbags, to drum heads, dog leads and car seats.
- cyanide-based oils, which causes heart and brain damage;
- chromium, which causes lung cancer, ulcers, holes in the nasal septum;
- arsenic, which is a deadly poison leading to lung cancer and death;
- lead, where high levels can cause death;
- formaldehyde, a probable human carcinogen.
PVC (polyVINYL chloride) is also toxic for animals, the environment and human health. Production requires noxious chemicals, in landfills their carcinogens are released through air currents that effect all animals; their toxic ash must be treated as hazardous waste. Whales are one example of animals that have high levels of dioxin and chemicals in their bodies from this waste. Dioxin is one of the most toxic chemicals known to humankind and causes cancer, nerve damage, birth defects and endometriosis. Look to shoes and bags made from canvas, recycled rubber, synthetic Ultrasuede, organic cotton and hemp.
While there is widespread acknowledgement of the cruelty of fur, the same is not true of leather. That is why we will continue to campaign on this important issue. Animal Liberation wants to see the importation and wearing of leather banned in Australia.
Furthermore, support companies that are creating sustainable alternatives to leather and PVC.