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Monday, January 28, 2008

More things to consider

So, my new amazing boots arrived, and they're supremely excellent.

When I ordered them I could get them in either leather, something called ecotan leather (more ecologically sound tanning process and a bit more expensive) or vegan, so I was forced to think about my preferences and personal ethical stance re leather goods.

Leather is the norm for shoes. As a consumer of leather you can get any shoe you want - if you're not bothered about where it came from.

However I don't apply that thinking to other areas of my life or things I buy.

I wouldn't buy clothes from Topshop just because I like them. I boycott Arcadia Group (among others) because I don't want to wear clothes that have been made by underpaid workers in unsafe conditions. That’s not cool.

Despite it being a bit of a pain in the arse, I don't buy makeup that's been tested on animals. Or supplements, or toiletries.

I would never wear fur - and leather’s the same thing really, just less fluffy.

But leather is waterproof, breathable and flexible. And I was brought up to think of non leather shoes as cheap and crappy.

That’s just not the case anymore. Lots of shoes are available with a fabric upper – though it’s a bit cold for winter and not waterproof, this is very breathable for summer. You can buy breathable vegan leather now, which is waterproof and breathable - I have experience of a few pairs of vegan shoes so can vouch for this.

And there are so many good vegan shoes available now, it's hardly like I would be missing out if I didn't buy leather. So, I decided that I would always try to seek out a vegan shoe where possible. I'm going to approach this the way I approach most things – stick to it whenever I can, but be careful not to make a massive crux for myself in making this 'the law'.

I was thinking, though, what is the impact of my choice to buy vegan shoes on the planet? We know that cows produce a shit (ha!) load of methane, and we rear a hell of a lot of cows for eating/dairy/leather purposes - so is my choice not to wear leather good for the planet?

Or, is it ultimately bad? Vegan shoes are made of hemp, canvas or vegan leather. If you want something warm and waterproof vegan leather is your best bet, but I don't even know what vegan leather is made of? I’m guessing it’s some kind of plastic, which ain't good for the world – it requires oil to produce and doesn't biodegrade.

Sadly the internet has failed to find me the easy answer to all this. ‘Buy less’ generally comes to mind but I’ll save my thoughts on that for another post.