Leather comes from the skin of cows from both the meat industry and dairy industry (check out the campaigns page to find out more about those issues!). Put simply - if you buy leather, you're also supporting meat and dairy, and the slaughter of animals.
To become leather, cow skin has to be chemically treated to stop it from rotting. This chemical process - called tanning- damages the environment, and the people who carry it out have their health damaged and are at much higher risk of developing various types of cancer. Most tanning takes place in developing countries, where labour is cheap and environmental regulations are not strong enough. They can pollute running waters by releasing the chemicals into rivers, which damages fish populations and the people who rely on the water to drink.
You can help stop this from happening by simply avoiding leather and choosing cruelty-free syntethic materials! There are plenty of options available these days.
Metal clippers used for shearing the wool often hurt the sheep; it is common for the animals to be clipped by the blades. Shearers are paid per unit of wool and often pay little attention to animal welfare; this can cause the sheep great amounts of stress. To avoid wool loss, many farmers shear the sheep too early and many sheep die from exposure to extreme weather. People mistakenly believe that the wool in their jumper comes from live sheep, whereas in fact some wool is stripped from dead sheep at the slaughterhouse.
Whilst fur farming itself is banned in Britain, it is not illegal to import fur. The UK fur market is worth millions of pounds every year. Most of the world’s fur originates from farms where essentially wild animals are caged and are unable to carry out their natural behaviours. Around 50 million animals are killed each year for their fur. Rabbit, mink and fox are the most commonly bred animals.
China is the biggest exporter of fur and has absolutely no laws to protect animals. Beautiful white arctic foxes and mink are kept in totally barren cages barely bigger than they are – one to a cage – row after row – continually pacing round in circles.
Animals raised in fur farms suffer great amounts of anxiety. Some animals will become so distressed that they self mutilate. In China, animals are often skinned whilst fully conscious, the pain for the animal is unimaginable. The cruel fur trade has no place in a civilised society.
Millions of silkworms are killed each year for the silk industry. Silk is the name given to a soft fabric made from the fine thread produced by certain moths. Most silkworms are killed while fully conscious inside their cocoons.
Commonly, moths are placed in scalding water and boiled alive. The moth is conscious throughout this process, no pain relief is provided. Hundreds of silkworms are killed for just one silk scarf or tie.