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A Greenwashing Scheme?

March 28, 2023

In today’s world of ever-evolving technology and sustainability in fashion, vegan leathers have become the latest must-have item for fashionistas and sustainable shoppers alike. From vegan shoes, bags and wallets to vegan jackets, vegan leathers are marketed as an ethical choice for people who want to minimize their environmental footprint without sacrificing style. 

Do these vegan leathers offer environmental benefits over traditional animal leathers? They are typically made from biomaterials like mycelium, mushroom, cactus, grapes and other plant-based materials which reduce the need for animals to be killed for their hide. But when it comes to sustainability in fashion, vegan leathers may not always be as friendly to the environment as they’re being marketed as. Many vegan leathers are actually made from high-plastic compositions and lack the biodegradability of animal leathers. 

The fashion industry is investing a lot in next-gen materials, offering up vegan alternatives that offer minimal resources and waste production, while also reducing carbon emissions. These new vegan leathers are being marketed as the most sustainable option, but they often come with a few drawbacks. When it comes to carbon footprint, many of these new materials claim an edge over animal leathers—and that sounds great in theory. The problem? Many still use too much plastic to biodegrade effectively. Ultimately, that means little to no overall advantage over either animal or plastic leathers.

 

The biggest drawback is that vegan leathers are made from plastic-based materials which lack biodegradability and offer little to no advantage over animal or traditional plastic leathers in terms of carbon footprint. This means that vegan leathers can still have an environmental impact, as the plastic components do not break down easily.

Why do they use plastic? It provides strength and performance properties that “bio-based,” “plant-based” material wouldn’t otherwise have. Plastic added during a manufacturing process to fibers of mycelium, cactus, grape, is needed to make these other materials strong.

Today, virtually all “vegan leathers” in the market are made from polyurethane (PU) and/or polyvinyl chloride (PVC)—plastics that can’t be easily recycled and contribute to the 91% of plastic that is not recycled globally. Plastic textiles, including “vegan leathers,” make up 36% of all global plastic waste.

In conclusion, vegan leathers have become a popular alternative to animal leathers for many fashionistas. While vegan leathers might seem to offer some environmental benefits over traditional animal leathers, they are not necessarily greener than other forms of leather and may still pose an environmental risk due to their high-plastic composition. So, when it comes to choosing vegan leathers for your wardrobe, make sure you weigh up all the pros and cons before making a decision.

This post was written by MycoWorks. 

Check out our story to learn why Reishi™ is different from leather alternatives. 

 

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