Rescued Leather: A Low Impact Alternative

Written by guest writer, Elizabeth Lamanna

With the launch of our Tuscany Crossbody Bag - our delectable (we think!) inaugural leather accessories handcrafted using rescued and reused luxury leather - it's a good time to put leather, often one of those materials that divides even the most hardened of ethical shoppers, under the spotlight. Here we gently dip into this complex material use - and justify our position on the rescue of leather for reuse.  

⁣Available in white, blue and black, our limited edition Tuscany Crossbody Bags epitomize modern, fresh and responsible design 

No question - it’s a high impact material 

Creating leather is monumentally environmentally polluting. Think ‘cows’ and alongside this you ought to think ‘deforestation’ to create grazing lands (hello loss of biodiversity and the collapse of ecosystems); ‘excessive resource use’; and, let’s be straight, loads of cow farts. All of this leads to environmental destruction and carbon emissions. (The livestock industry alone generates 15% of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.) Plus, leather suppliers, many of whom work in awful tanneries in developing countries, use a mind-boggling cocktail of chemicals to turn skins into shoes, belts and bags. 

Leather - a food industry by-product or co-product?

Leather is often considered as an ‘innocent’ by-product of the meat and dairy industries; so to many it feels justified to ‘simply’ transform hides into fashion. The cow’s fate as burgers, steaks or stroganoffs is predetermined - so why not use every part of it - right? 

The truth of the matter is that many fashion businesses will continue using leather in a market that demands it - making leather perhaps more of a ‘co-product’ of the meat industry than purely a by-product.

At The R Collective, we know from firsthand experience that there is a lot of unwanted leather in the supply chain. That is why we support reusing leather that would otherwise potentially go to waste - which we think is the best solution for the current leather material conundrum. 

Is it right to waste leather? 

No. Our vision is for a world without waste and we are dedicated to addressing fashion waste, with a circular system of rescue, reuse and recycling of fashion’s unwanted materials.  Whether it is silk, cotton, viscose, or buttons, zippers or cords, we believe safe and quality materials must not go to waste. And this certainly includes leather. 

We believe in leather Rescue and Reuse 

Our Tuscany Crossbody bags are created using rescued leather, from global luxury brands, and they carry our R Mark, our hallmark that assures the rescue of waste for reuse or recycling.

That is why we rescued this top luxury leather, unwanted by other global luxury brands for a host of reasons, to create Tuscany Crossbody Bag and various other corporate gifts for leading businesses. We’re firm in our conviction that leather materials, and indeed these animals’ former lives, must be cherished and not chucked into landfills or incinerated.

As a result, these rescued leather Tuscany Crossbody Bag clearly have a significantly lower impact than traditional leather goods made with new leather. Plus, we love the durability that leather inherently delivers, enabling us all to keep our rescued and reused leather products in use for longer, which in turn slows down over consumption in our own small way. So this investment can last its owner a lifetime.

Animal vs vegan leather? 

Away from our products - since The R Collective does not use virgin materials - the debate still rages about the relative benefits of using real leather vs ‘vegan’ leather. We know that new leather may not be considered the best choice. That said, ‘vegan’ leather is often made from polyester and other synthetics, itself a big polluter. The great news is that hitting the market now are breakthroughs in leather alternatives, some of which are made from mushrooms, cork, apple peels. We love! 


Checkout our new Tuscany Crossbody Bag here!


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