Buyer, Beware: PETA calls for awareness for leather origins

Not many consumers stop to ask the question where the leather for their new
belt or handbag came from, which raises numerous issues concerning the
traceability of the product. Although the majority of the population knows
that leather comes from the skin of a dead animal, most leather products do
not specific which animal the items is made from and where it came from. In
a new short video, named ‘Labels’ created by animal rights organisation
PETA and Catsnake Studio, eight year old Rebecca, makes it a point to find
out where leather comes from.

“For the past three decades, PETA and other animal rights organisations
have worked to educate the public about horrific cruelty of the fur
industry – and our efforts have paid off. Today, 95 percent of British
consumers won’t wear real fur, according to a recent TNS poll,”
explained Sasha Camilli, PR for PETA UK to FashionUnited. “Our goal is now
to move the conversation forward to include other, equally cruel but less
discussed, uses of animal skins in fashion. That’s why we recently produced
a new video that softly highlights the lack of transparency in the leather
industry. We want to open consumers’ eyes to the fact that there’s no way
to really know whose skin you’re in or how those animals were treated
before they were turned into shoes, bags, or belts.”

‘Labels – do you know what you’re wearing?’

The short film, which is a world away from PETA’s usual bloody, undercover
exposes, depicts Rebecca and her friends discovering the truth behind the
leather industry – they can just as easily be made from cat and dog skins
as they can from cows and pigs skins without proper traceability within the
supply chain. As there is currently no law making it compulsory for
companies to label which animals their products are made from, consumers
have little way of knowing which skin they are purchasing. “As this is a
consumer issue, we wanted to portray the frustrating reality of being
unable to know which animal you’re wearing – this eight-year-old girl is
curious and wants answers, like children often do, and her being unable to
find them reflects the lack of traceability within the leather industry,”
added Camili.

With the main bulk of the world’s leather coming from developing countries
such as Bangladesh, India and China, which lack laws concerning animal
welfare, PETA stresses that many suffer the horrors of factory farming
before death, which include intensive confinement in squalid pens,
castration without pain relief, ‘death marches’ and chronic disease. The
animal right’s organisation also highlights the environmental toll the
leather industry has, as well as the human toll. The tanning process of
hides involves mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives,
cyanide-based dyes and other dangerous substances, which are often dumped
into rivers and nearby fields that in turn causes water and soil pollution
that affects the health of local communities.

“Investigations into the leather trade in Bangladesh and India have found
workers – some as young as 10 – standing barefoot in toxic chromium
effluent and handling cancer-causing acids and bleaches without adequate
safety equipment,” commented PETA UK in a press release. “Unsurprisingly, a
huge percentage of these tannery workers die before they’re 50.” As one of
the world’s most toxic industries PETA hopes its latest film will not only
highlight the issues with the leather industry, but also encourage
consumers to invest in vegan items.

Image Credit: PETA

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