As Christians, are we called to a life mindful of sustainability? I’d argue vehemently that we are. This Earth is a gift entrusted to us by Our Creator and, just like a unique and precious gift given by someone we love, we should treat it with care and attention. It’s the call of humanity to care for this land, this Earth, and everything here with us.
It’s no secret that the fashion industry is far from sustainable or ethical.
I’m not a fashionable person, what with my daily uniform of jeans or a linen dress. My makeup routine consists of mascara, when I’m feeling fancy. My husband cuts my hair (it’s true!). And I once horrified an aesthetician (I’m not even sure what that word means) by telling her I’d never had a facial and didn’t have a skincare routine. But somehow, my troll of a self ended up here in the world of fashion. I really just love making amazing leather goods for all of you beautiful and fashionable people!
The fashion industry is rife with unsustainable and unethical practices. Is there really anything we can rightly call ethical fashion? Yes! Many amazing small businesses are popping up to stand up against fast fashion. I think that Christians are called to be at the forefront of this movement. There are so many incredible companies fighting the trends – it’s amazing and beautiful!
Leather Industry and Sustainability
I can only speak to the leather industry, because it’s what I know best. One thing I love the best about real leather is its sustainability. Vegetable tanned leather is fairly easy on the environment, using water, oils, and organic materials such as mimosa bark in the tanning process. The incredible process takes literal trash – animal hides are a by product of the meat industry and would otherwise end up in landfills – and turns it all into something beautiful, useful, and long lasting.
The meat industry isn’t going away, but perhaps the leather industry can lessen the blow that it has on the environment. On the whole, the meat industry doesn’t seem overly interested in the overarching good of the planet. When humanity was nomadic or simply populations of small villages, animals were respected and used “nose to tail”. It was the pinnacle of ethical practices! These days, we take what we need and leave the rest. This is where the leather industry can swoop in and really make in impact.
Sustainability and Transparency
In the United States, we have two main tanneries and they’re both extremely transparent about their working conditions. You can find them both on Instagram or even visit, if you’re in the area. Many small batch leather goods companies order directly from these tanneries, to ensure that your item is as ethically sourced as it can be.
On the whole, the textile industry can have working conditions that simply aren’t ethical. Historically, the fashion industry is an extremely dangerous place to work. It’s heartening to see that real leather is an industry embracing ethical working conditions.
Transparency is an enormous indicator as to the sustainability and ethics of a company. To see these companies, and others in places like Italy, being so transparent is a really good indicator that leather is a sustainable and ethical choice in fashion.
Leather, Longevity, and the Compost Bin
The magic of leather really lies in it’s longevity and that sought after patina. It is one of the most durable of natural materials and, unlike just about anything else, it actually gets better with age! With use and love and time and age, your leather goods gain a unique and stunning patina. The colors deepen, the temper softens, and this piece that was beautiful when it was made becomes something unique and even more gorgeous.
Leather goods are made to be passed down, not to end up in a landfill. They’ll last for years and years of loving use and then happily be passed on to a new owner when the time comes. They’ll gain a gorgeous, unique patina that is truly its own personal story, written right into the piece. And finally, after all that time, when the item has reached the end of its road, doesn’t it just end up in the landfill after all? Aren’t we just delaying the inevitable with all of this?
Actually, no. It doesn’t need to end up in a landfill, but in a compost bin. Did you know that vegetable tanned leather is compostable?!? Truly. It’s amazing!
Fully Circle Leather, Cattle, and Renewal
Composted leather becomes beautiful soil. Soil in which we can grow fresh grass, on which to raise the new herds of cattle to nourish the people and become the gorgeous handbags of the future. It’s an incredible cycle of renewal. It’s a beautiful circle that Mother Nature makes and we can only witness it in it’s full glory, if we are mindful of sustainable practices in our purchases and consumption. God gave is these circles, it’s our job to make sure they all connect.