The leather industry has a huge environmental impact. According to the Environmental Working Group, tannery waste is polluting our water supply and producing hazardous chemicals that are harmful to wildlife, livestock, and people. Leather also uses an inordinate amount of energy in its processing – about 10 times more than plastic. And it takes at least twice as much energy to produce the same amount of usable material from leather as it does for synthetic materials like polyester or nylon.
But all hope is not lost! There are many ways you can still enjoy the benefits of leather goods while reducing your ecological footprint: by choosing upcycled/reclaimed leather; recycling old leather goods; buying vintage items; opting for low-impact animal products like sheepskin rugs (which also have the added benefit of being anti-static and hypoallergenic); or choosing environmentally friendly synthetics.
Here are 10 ways to use upcycled/reclaimed leather:
1. Furniture – Leather can be used to upholster furniture, whether it’s a chair, sofa, ottoman, or even a headboard.
2. Accessories – Accessories like belts, purses, wallets, shoes, and even watch straps can all be made from recycled leather.
3. Decorations – Leather is the perfect material for making decorative items like picture frames, mirrors, lampshades, and wall hangings.
4. Gifts – Leather makes great gift items like journals, photo albums, or keychains.
5. Car accessories – Leather seat covers, steering wheel covers, and shift knobs are all popular car accessories that can be made from recycled materials.
6. Products – Old leather belts and scraps can be turned into handbags, backpacks, belts, and hats.
7. Furniture – Leather furniture is still available for purchase new or used (just make sure it’s really old leather). If you like the look of leather but don’t want to be tied down to one particular color, consider low-VOC materials like polyurethane instead.
8. Sportswear – New technology now allows leather shoes to maintain healthy feet without causing additional harm to cows used for food production or to other animals in the wild who are impacted by deforestation caused by cattle ranching to produce beef. Check out Nike’s Flyleather™ shoes which use 95% fewer chemicals than traditional cowhide shoes.
9. Art and Craft – Leather is a great medium for art and crafts. Leather scraps can be used to create jewelry, decorate picture frames, or even macramé wall hangings. Old leather gloves also make great paintbrushes!
10. Tools – Several tools can be made from recycled leather including sponges, chisels, and hammers.
Upcycled/reclaimed leather is a great way to enjoy the benefits of this material while reducing your environmental impact. We’ve shown you 10 ways that re-purposing old leather can be used in everyday life and how it’s not just limited to furniture! Leather also makes for some amazing gifts, car accessories, and even sportswear – so don’t throw out those scraps yet! Let us know if we’ve missed any other cool uses for upcycled/reclaimed leather below or on our social media pages. Interested in buying leather bags in bulk? Contact us today!