letto leonardo


The renewable value of leather

Sensitivity to our environment has raised a new awareness of the materials we use in our daily lives, and for millennia, leather has been among these. In the wake of this new awareness, there have also been questions about the responsible use of this undoubtedly natural and renewable material, but to what extent and at what price is it sustainable?

Thanks to campaigns to protect our planet’s resources, the value of fauna has been recognised and the impact of harmful and uncontrolled hunting and trafficking of valuable materials has been reduced. Currently, the leather used by the furniture industry comes from the food industry’s cattle farms, of which leather is a by-product.

The leather used here is the result of a long treatment process: the material acquires a very high value, which in turn has raised the quality standards of its production. In fact, quality leather requires that the animal be raised carefully, from breeding to transport to slaughter, safe from harm caused by parasites or contamination from manure or scratches and scars which would downgrade its value.

Added to this are also the improvements made to tanning techniques, now increasingly based on processes and equipment having a reduced impact on the environment and less waste.

Often, for reasons of immediate economic advantage disguised as environmentalism, leather has been replaced by plastic and synthetic materials, sometimes even defined as ecological. In many cases, these are composite microfibers of polyvinyl chloride or other petroleum-based textile polymers, whose advantage for the environment is still to be ascertained… Of course, they may be much cheaper, but only in terms of their price tag.

Very often we consumers are the ones directly responsible for these productions: these materials are also developed to meet the demands of a market that no longer knows how to appreciate the “wrinkle” on a cow’s hide, because it considers it a defect. Just as the knot of in a piece of wood is considered a defect, instead this is its most intrinsic naturalness. Such as it is, the customer who won’t take “no” for an answer, often and without knowing it, guides the search for perfect materials that are reproducible ad infinitum without imperfections or mutations, i.e., plastic. Often defined as better and more durable, in reality, unlike leather, they are definitely not biodegradable.

Article by Marina Bani

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