Modher (plastic-free) vegan handbags
It’s now easy to find vegan shoes and children’s shoes. And vegan handbags. The brands we recommend are all made from Microfiber (a more sustainable vegan breathable leather) and biodegradable materials like rope, jute or natural rubber. But it’s worth writing a post on the vegan leather industry, as many big brands have jumped on the bandwagon, and are now selling ‘pleather’ shoes that are basically plastic (so better for animals, but just as bad for the planet). Vegan leathers to avoid include PC (plastic), PVC (toxic plastic) and pleather (plastic leather).
Millions of people wear leather shoes, jackets and trousers. But leather is not normally a by-product of the meat industry. In fact, it’s a separate industry in itself with millions of animals being killed (mostly in the Far East, where there are few animal welfare and human rights records) to make leather goods for western consumers. The leather tanning process is very polluting, and dangerous for workers.
Many ‘luxury leather goods’ still outsource to China, meaning they are very cheap to make (you are being fooled by marketing peeps, if you buy them). Good on You’s score for Armani is ‘not good enough’ because apart from ditching fur, it has few other positive credentials re: animal welfare, environmental policy or labour standards. Other designer brands fare the same (one of the few that has a ‘good rating’ is Stella McCartney) who only uses plant-based materials.
To be fair, there is not really a pure vegan biodegradable leather yet, but we’re getting there. A few like apple leather and pineapple leather (pinatex) still use synthetic materials along with waste fruits, and cactus leather is likely the same.
vegan cork leather
Cork leather is good, this is simply made by stripping (not chopping) a tree in the Mediterranean. In a world of plastic wine corks, keeping the cork industry alive helps keep the forests intact, which is good also for native wildlife. Cork naturally looks and feels like leather, so this is a really good natural option.
Willow Earth Hastings Cotton Rucksack is made from ethically sourced materials, with padded cotton straps to avoid digging into your shoulders, and extra cushioning along the back. The inside has two pouches (for tablets or notebooks) and a zipped pocket. The canvas flap creates a more neutral model than Glynde Cotton Rucksack (above), though it still features cork material on labels and trim. The canvas is water-repellent (you can waterproof it with their homemade soy wax).
Corkor (Portugal) offers gorgeous quality handmade accessories made from sustainable cork. From bags to laptop cases to belts.
a new biodegradable vegan leather
One promising newcomer is Mirum. Unlike most, this is biodegradable and it’s being used in many vegan handbag brands and also to make shoes like Noah Shoes which also makes belts from corn leather.
leather (made from leaves!)
Leaf leather is made from sustainably-harvested teak leaves (not the same as buying teak wood). These large leaves make for great ‘vegan leather’ without processing, and the company plants loads of trees for each purchase. You can also make ‘leaf leather’ from mushrooms, soybean waste, kombucha tea and pineapples.