Now, more than ever, people want to shop as ethically and sustainably as they can, but it’s not always easy to achieve.

This is particularly true when it comes to leather or sheepskin products, but there are ways that you can shop sustainably for this by-product of the meat industry.

First and foremost, it is important to understand,

What makes leather and sheepskin sustainable products?

  1. Leather and sheepskin are a by-product of the meat industry.
    This means you are using a waste product and are saving it from going to landfill. As a result, the carbon emissions are very low because, aside from the tanning process, you are not manufacturing a new product like man-made fibres. There is far more leather and sheepskin thrown away than is used by the textile industry – so even with a reduction in meat eating to combat climate change, leather and sheepskin will still be a sustainable choice.
  2. It’s natural.
    It can be disposed of responsibly at the end of a product’s life, or can be recycled or repurposed, and it will also biodegrade (slowly).
  3. It lasts.
    Leather and sheepskin have been used for centuries due to their fantastic natural properties. One of these is durability – if you buy a quality, real leather belt, it will last you for decades, reducing the impact on the environment and the amount of products that need to be made.

OK, so you want to buy leather or sheepskin. Which company should you purchase from to stay as sustainable as possible?

Buy local, research the brand

  1. Buy local
    Buying locally made leather or sheepskin products or sticking to European sourced is a good step towards ensuring ethical and sustainable materials.
    This is because both the UK and EU are bound by some of the strongest rules and regulations in the world to ensure animal welfare and address environmental issues such as correct disposal of tanning chemicals and factory standards, including minimum wage.
    Buying items made as locally as possible often means that supply chains are also fairly local. By purchasing an item made in Yorkshire, for example, you would often be supporting British businesses right down the supply chain.
  2. Do your research
    It’s worth finding out more about the brands you’re buying from, to understand their supply chains and the materials they use in more detail.
    A good place to start in this process is to look on their websites, visit their shops and phone them up.
    Responsible brands will be happy to chat and answer your questions and will make it clear how they produce their products.
  3. Buy second hand
    Leather and sheepskin is durable as mentioned above. Which is a factor that makes it perfect to purchase used. Either in a shop or online, see if the product you’re looking for isn’t available preloved before committing to a brand new item.

Once you’ve looked into the provenance of the leather product you are interested in, you can feel much more assured that you are making an informed choice, whilst supporting local businesses and supply chains.

It is also worth visiting Leather UK and the new Leather UK Directory, where you will find a range of information to help inform your buying decisions.