While I love my organic cotton canvas shoes from Veja, these ones in vegetable tanned leather are just a tad bit warmer. I’m still looking for proper winter boots (I have for a few years now), but until I find some that fits both with my ethics and style, these Veja sneaks will have to do. Fingers crossed we won’t get any snow any time soon. And also, layers, layers and layers seems to be the keyword to staying warm these days.
I have various leather products in my wardrobe by now. The most recent is this beautiful tote made from recycled leather, which I think might be my favourite leather alternative these days. However, it’s not widely available, so vegetable tanned leather is a close second. I’ve discussed the pros and cons of vegan leather before and I just don’t think it’s currently an eco-friendly alternative. Cruelty-free, yes. If you only count animals, but the chemicals involved in making vegan leather is neither safe for the people involved or the environment, so I’m holding my horses on that one. At least until better materials have been developed.
Vegetable tanned leather vs. chrome tanning
The traditional leather tanning process (the process that turns animal skin into leather) uses chrome, which is effective and fast, leaving the leather soft and uniform within a couple of days. But chromium salts is a carcinogenic, persistent and indestructible chemical that is both harmful to humans and the environment.
Vegetable tanning is a much more natural way of tanning leather, since it takes advantage of the tannic acids naturally found in some plants. It’s an old, artisan way of tanning leather and takes longer than the traditional tanning process using chrome (between one and three months). Which is also one of the reasons it’s a more expensive process than chrome tanning. Two things that makes it much less favourable in our current fashion system; it requires more time and money. Another bonus in my book is that vegetable tanned leather is also usually biodegradable. The biggest downside; vegetable tanning requires more water than chrome tanning. Which is why you should always choose good quality over quantity. Resources have been used in the production regardless of how they were made, so choose consciously is so important.