Ethical Leather: Is Leather a Byproduct of the Meat Industry?

Free Range Bison for an Ethical Leather Source

With the recent fires in the Amazon rainforest, due in large part to cattle farming, I started thinking about the leather industry and all the reasons we use free range bison leather for our products. The leather industry and manufacturers of leather goods like to claim that their use of cow leather is justified in that it is just a byproduct of the meat industry. In other words, if we didn't use these hides, they would go to waste in a landfill somewhere. This couldn't be further from the truth.

In actuality, it is estimated that the value of a cow hide is 20% of the cow's total value. For other animals, the value of their hide a much higher percentage. An ostrich, for example, has a hide worth approximately 80% of their total value, for an alligator, it's almost 100%.

And here's what's worse: the consuming public's taste for leather has evolved over time to demand the softest most luxurious leathers - smooth and soft as butter. So now we butcher baby and even unborn cows to meet this demand. The plight of calves raised for veal is well documented and even the most ardent meat-eaters draw the line at veal. But then why is it ok to carry a handbag made from the hides of these abused animals?

Don't get me wrong, I'm very aware that the use of any hide requires the sacrifice of an animal's life. However, there are many of us that want to use and carry leather goods but without the guilt of knowing an animals abuse and suffering brought us our favorite wallet. And that is the little niche I wanted to fill with Heist.

We only use free-range bison leather for our products. It isn't as easy to source as cow leather, comes in a fraction of the color options cow leather does and carries many more scars and "flaws" on their hides - all at a higher price. But to me it's worth it to have some sort of peace knowing these animals were raised free-range, grazing in a pasture as they were intended. Not stuffed in crates where they can hardly move while being pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones.

So you have my promise. Here at Heist, we will never support factory farming and the very flawed cattle industry. Be smart about who you support. Buy domestic, buy free-range and vote for people who give a shit about the environment. And remember, you vote with your dollars too!