Car Buyers Need Choice But First - the Facts

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Within the leather industry we believe strongly that well made leather is a material with major environmental benefits and which is perfectly compatible with modern thinking regarding responsible purchasing and consumption.

We only ask for a level playing field and not to find our material being attacked with incorrect facts or deliberate untruths.

It is reported from web sites in Australia and New Zealand that Range Rover has introduced an upmarket textile and plastic interior alongside leather.  A logical decision perhaps, as not everyone will want leather, but some of the explanatory arguments are disturbing since they appear to be built on quite incorrect facts.  The underlying logic, objectively examined would always lead the ethical consumer towards leather as the most responsible upholstery material. 

During an interview Gerry McGovern, the design director at Land Rover is quoted as saying “Personally, I'd be quite happy to move away from leather tomorrow. I don’t like that we have to slaughter all those cows to create leather." 

Such a statement about cattle is an animal rights position, since no cow is, or ever has been slaughtered for its leather.  Cattle are kept for meat and for milk; and by about a billion subsistence farmers as a source of wealth. As tanners we consider the hide to be of major importance and seek out the good husbandry that ensures the best quality. The pricing is such that the end of life value of the hide, never mind the lifetime benefits for the farmer, means that the hide plays no part in the decision to keep livestock. 

Because hides are a non-determining product the supply of leather has not been keeping up with demand over recent decades, which has naturally meant that well made leather has been tending towards more of a luxury material. So for this reason alone as well as for widening customer options it is logical that car companies should offer alternates. They should make this clear and not pretend that there is a societal benefit in doing so, as it is more likely to be the reverse.

Leather not only comes from a natural material but it offers outstanding low maintenance and long life. These are of primary importance in any sustainability programme as the originator of the circular economy concept, Walter Stahel, made clear forty years ago when he talked of “longer product-life of goods as waste prevention strategy”. 

Within the leather industry we believe strongly that well made leather is a material with major environmental benefits and which is perfectly compatible with modern thinking regarding responsible purchasing and consumption. We only ask for a level playing field and not to find our material being attacked with incorrect facts or deliberate untruths.

Leather Naturally

18th July 2017

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