From Hollywood (who could forget the iconic T-Bird leather jacket?) to the music industry (think Michael Jackson in Thriller), leather has always been pop culture's universal symbol of cool and edge, especially when the cold weather hits, which makes its environmentally harmful manufacturing processes that much more disappointing.
The cows that are used for traditional leather require lots of flat, treeless pasture for grazing, and Greenpeace estimates that the Brazilian cattle industry alone accounts for 14 percent of the world's deforestation. As the leather hide moves into the production process, things only get dirtier. The tanning and dyeing of leather sucks up massive amounts of water, and tanneries in Bangladesh collectively produce 22,000 cubic meters of wastewater per day. The processes also involve multiple toxic chemicals including chromium, a dangerous compound that's been linked to respiratory issues and cancer.
Now, enough of the bad news. Today, innovative brands are working tirelessly and passionately to produce stylish and quality leather and faux-leather goods like coats, handbags, wallets, and clutches, without the social and environmental impact. Here are a few manufacturers to check in on: