If, like me, you’re trying to be more environmentally conscious in your daily life or are just looking for a more ethical leather substitute, you may be wondering about leather alternatives.
Recently, I’ve heard the phrase ‘eco leather’ pop up more and more.
So, what is eco-leather, and what are its uses?
Eco leather is an interchangeable term describing safer, sustainable, and environmentally friendly alternatives to natural leather processing or animal leather alternatives.
Often vegan, made from materials mimicking the texture and appearance of real leather while reducing its environmental cost.
Sustainable leather is used for many purposes, including clothing and upholstery.
You may be wondering what specifically the term eco leather refers to or whether it has the right properties to incorporate into your lifestyle and eco-friendly journey.
If you are, read on because we have everything you need to know about eco-leather, how it’s made, its uses, and its sustainability.
What Is Eco Leather?
Eco Leather can and is used interchangeably to describe products made from real, recycled leather or artificial leather.
Most of these ecoleather products use more environmentally friendly production processes and chemicals, particularly in the tanning process.
Vegan or plant leather leather ‘pleather’ mimic the texture and color of natural leather but is made from non-animal-based materials.
They are considered more environmentally friendly and ethically produced than natural leather.
Manufacturers in various industries have embraced using eco-leather as environmental concerns about real leather production become increasingly widespread.
How Is Vegan Leather Made?
Synthetic leather is often vegan and is generally made from natural materials.
Or a combination of plastic polymers, recycled plastics, or more natural sources such as mushrooms, pineapple leaves, apple cores, and cork.
Plant-based vegan leather materials may also be organically produced, which has further environmental benefits.
While there are several types of synthetic leather, the most environmentally sustainable are generally considered those made from natural (preferably organic) resources.
What Is The Difference Between Eco Leather And Faux Leather?
Eco-leather and faux leather are similar but are not quite the same.
Eco leather is the specific name for leather materials and synthetic leather alternatives that prioritize environmental sustainability in their manufacturing processes.
In contrast, some faux leathers may not (they may use environmentally damaging chemicals and procedures).
Faux leather is generally of worse quality than eco-leather and, as a result, may not be as durable.
How Is Eco Leather Environmentally Friendly?
What makes leather eco-friendly? And does eco-leather genuinely lessen the industry’s environmental impact, or is it just another fad?
I was also wondering, so I did the research, and it shows that switching to eco-friendly leather can make a big difference!
According to a 2018 sustainability report by Kering, eco-leather production has approximately one-third of the environmental impact of leather, which is an easy way to decrease your ecological footprint.
Eco leather is more environmentally friendly because its materials do not require the same chemicals during leather tanning nor the same amount of water and land to produce.
Also, making eco-friendly leather does not result in the high GHG emissions of natural leather farming.
What Can You Use Eco Leather For?
So, you might be wondering what functions eco friendly leather can be used for and whether there are uses for which it’s not suited.
The good news is that synthetic sustainable leather can be used for almost any purpose you use genuine leather for!
It comes in various strengths and thicknesses and can be used for upholstering large furniture items like a leather sofa and car interiors or making clothes, shoes, and accessories.
Big fashion brands are starting to use eco-friendly leather in their collections, which seems to be gaining popularity.
For instance, Hugo Boss released a pineapple skin range of shoes not long ago, and H&M used the same material in their Conscious Exclusive collection.
Some car manufacturers also use more vegan leather alternatives for car seats and interiors as durable as natural leather to make more vegan-friendly cars.
It seems likely that luxury brands will start considering the alternative soon too, which will have a significant positive effect on fashion and products made by the leather industry.
This positive environmental impact will hopefully inspire other companies to follow suit.
How Do You Keep Eco Leather Looking Fresh?
You might be wondering how to maintain eco-leather and how well it lasts.
While generally, not as durable as a natural type of leather, good-quality eco leather can last over 10 -20 years if maintained correctly.
My tips for keeping your ecoleather product looking new and fresh are:
- Prevent eco leather from drying out. Some eco leather will crack if too dry. To prevent this, treat your eco-leather to moistening baby oil or leather food twice a year or when needed.
- Avoid exposure to excessive heat or bright, direct light. This exposure may cause your leather to dry out and crack.
- Avoid humidity. A constantly humid setting can also undermine the integrity of your eco-fabric.
- Clean regularly but gently. When cleaning your eco-leather product, be sure to avoid harsh soaps. I recommend warm water, a damp non-abrasive cloth, and a washing-up soap.
- Dry your eco-leather with a soft cloth after cleaning.
- Never use bleach treatments! Bleach will damage eco-leather, which may cause it to crack or become more susceptible to stains.
How Long Does Eco Leather Last?
Eco-friendly leather is more durable than traditional leather, as it is not susceptible to cracking or drying out, is less likely to fade under UV light, and is more stain resistant.
As a result, eco-leather can last up to five times longer than traditional leather. eco leather is also easier to clean and maintain, as it does not require harsh chemicals or cleaners.
Eco leather is ideal for those looking for a sustainable and eco-friendly option for their furniture or accessories where durability and long life are key concerns.
Does Eco Leather Peel?
Eco-friendly Leather does not generally suffer from peeling, but inferior-quality eco-leather can peel. Ensure you only buy good-quality eco leather from a reputable supplier to avoid this.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Eco Leather?
Using eco-leather has several benefits, primarily for the environment. It takes up way less space to produce (which could slow deforestation in cattle farming areas such as South America), uses less water, and creates less chemical pollution.
Eco leather is also much safer for manufacturers and wearers of leather materials, as workers are required to treat it with many very toxic chemicals during the traditional leather tanning process.
These chemicals can impact the health of both the worker and the customer.
Plant-based vegan leather made from recycled materials is thus hugely beneficial for the environment and the people manufacturing the material.
However, some eco leather is made from plastic, which is not without its concerns environmentally as the microplastics are likely to enter the environment, where they are harmful and take years to break down.
This means that natural eco-leathers are the most environmentally conscious choice.
Eco leather can sometimes also be the more sensible choice! It is often cheaper than genuine leather options and virtually indistinguishable from them.
In upholstery, eco-leather does not crack or fade as easily as traditional leather, making it popular for car and boat upholstery.
Eco-leather refers to a range of alternatives to traditional leather considered more environmentally conscious and sustainable.
Organic materials and plant-based eco-leathers are especially environmentally friendly. Eco-leather can also be made from recycled materials and plastics.
Generally, regardless of the type, eco-leather has been found to have a far less negative environmental impact than traditional leather farming processes.
As you can use an eco-leather alternative for any animal leather product, why not try it? The planet will thank you later!