First and foremost, leather is not just – as some consider it – a byproduct of the meat industry, as an animal’s skin easily represents 10% of its total value.
Leather may originate from cows, pigs, goats or sheep; But also from exotic animals such as crocodiles, ostriches and kangaroos. Surprisingly for some, leather can also be made from dog or cat skin. In Thailand, an average of 500 dogs are slaughtered each week. Because leather is rarely labeled, you are never sure of where (and who) it originates from.
In addition, leather production is also an important source of pollution. Tanneries are often located near rivers as tanning requires a constant supply of water. At the end of that process, various pollutants (such as chromium, coal tar, cyanide, paint, grease, hair, etc.) remain in the water as it is discharged back into the river.