Faux leather, also known as synthetic leather or vegan leather, is a petroleum-based alternative to genuine leather. While faux leather has many of the same desirable attributes of genuine leather, it is not necessary to harm animals to create this substance.
Like real leather, faux leather is soft to the touch, and it is water-resistant. Therefore, this fabric is highly resistant to stains, and it is easy to clean. While synthetic leather is less durable than real leather, it is resistant to both abrasions and cuts, which makes it an ideal fabric for upholstery in homes with children or pets.
Where it grows / Where it is made
Top countries: China - USA
Jackets, shoes, gloves, hats, pants, belts, watch bands, cases, handbags, upholstery, sports items, firearm holsters, luggage.
Impact on the environment
Faux leather production has a generally negative impact on the environment. While artificial leather production prevents harm to animals, animal life is ironically harmed by the steady accumulation of this non-biodegradable material in the world’s ecosystems.
The production of the fossil fuel derivatives used in faux leather production, such as ethylene, inevitably introduces toxic substances into surrounding ecosystems
While some faux leather production facilities may work hard to reuse solvents and reduce their overall environmental impact, there’s only so much that these efforts can impact the overall negative effects of synthetic leather production worldwide.
Since synthetic leather is not biodegradable, it remains in the environment once it is discarded.
Vegetable-based faux leather theoretically has a reduced impact on the environment since it is biodegradable. However, the market share of vegetable-based synthetic leather is so small that the environmentally beneficial attributes of this fabric are all-but nonexistent.
More sustainable alternatives
Pinatex fabric, cork, recycled rubber.
End of life possibilities
Hard to recycle.
There is a sensitive debate between real leather and artificial leather. While animal rights activists extoll the virtues of faux leather since it doesn’t require killing cows or other animals, defenders of the environment bemoan the fact that synthetic leather doesn’t biodegrade and that the production of this substance releases harmful chemicals into the environment.