4 Guidelines to Source Sustainable Leather

There is a growing awareness among brands and consumers to source sustainable materials for their footwear, handbags, clothing, car interiors and furniture pieces. Sourcing leather responsibly and ethically is an important topic.

Brands that prioritize responsible sourcing demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, which can positively impact their reputation and attract environmentally conscious consumers. Consumers also benefit by being able to make informed purchasing decisions, knowing that their purchases have a positive impact on the planet and people. By working together, brands and consumers can help create a more sustainable future.

How to source leather responsibly?

Are you a brand or consumer and are you looking to source sustainableresponsible leather? These four guidelines will help you:

sustainable leather from cows, a by product

1. Type of leather

Look for leather that is made from cow, pig or lamb hides. These types of leather are always a by-product from the meat and dairy industry. That means animals are not killed for their hides, but for the food industry. The hide is a waste product that the leather industry turns into leather, that can be used for shoes, clothing, handbags, furniture, car interiors and more.

What is a by-product?

certification log
Image: Leather Working Group

2. Check for certifications

Research the company or brand to determine their ethical and environmental standards. Check for certifications such as the Leather Working Group (LWG), Cradle To Cradle Products Innovation Institute, ToxFMD Screened Chemistry or the Global Organic Textile Standard.

The LWG offers for example on online database to search certified tanneries. Also for conscious consumers it becomes easier to source the right leather products. Have a look in quality stores for the LWG label or check the product descriptions in online stores, to find out if leather is tanned without chrome for example.

3. Trace the source of leather

Ask about the supply chain and if leather can traced back to the source. This can help ensure that the leather is from animals that have been treated well and it is not from endangered species, or from suppliers who use unethical practices. There are multiple initiatives in the industry that can already give you more information, have a look at SPOOR or the digital ID’s by Mulberry.

Sustainable Upholstery Leather

4. Be careful with alternative materials

Consider alternative materials, such as recycled leather, but be aware that not all alternative materials are more sustainable than traditional leather. It’s important to research the production process and environmental impact of any alternative materials.  For example ‘vegan leather’ is in most cases not more than a marketing label. Materials made with pineapple or apple skin consist for the largest part of fossil materials like plastic. They are not as durable as leather (not by far) and are very difficult to recycle or compost.

By taking these steps, you can help ensure that the leather you purchase is responsibly sourced and has a positive impact on the environment and communities.

Discover Zeology Leather

Properly made and sourced leather is a truly sustainable material. Leather is sustainable, circular and compostable when using the right chemicals. That is exactly what we offer with Zeology Leather.

Zeology Leather is leather tanned with Zeology, a game-changing tanning agent based on zeolites and free of chrome, aldehyde, heavy metals and other harmful substances. This makes the leather in your shoe, bag, or lounge chair compostable and biodegradable. You can even return it to the earth.

Download the Zeology brochure

How can we help?

We can connect you to a tannery to supply your brand with Zeology leather. Reach out.

Contact us

Zeology is trusted by brands like PUMA, Anya Hindmarch, Italic, EMMA Safety Footwear, Ted Louise and many more.

PUMA develops biodegradable RE:SUEDE sneaker with Zeology

PUMA has developed an experimental version of its most iconic sneaker to test for a product to make it biodegradable. The RE:SUEDE is made from Zeology tanned suede.

See and feel leather made with Zeology at Lineapelle

A number of our partner tanneries are exhibiting sustainable leather tanned with Zeology. Find out where you have to be!

Download: Zeology Information Kit

A ready-made document with the basics, benefits and FAQ's on Zeology. Including a basic and technical glossary.