|India’s leather trade|
Ever wonder what stops animal skins used for leather shoes and handbags from decomposing into a stinky, slimy mess? The answer is chromium tanning, which creates quite a mess of its own—including toxic wastewater and contaminated soil. According to a new report that ranks tannery operations fifth on a list of the world’s worst toxic-pollution problems, chromium tanning also puts millions of people at risk for serious health problems.
In addition to the toxic tannery sludge, raising animals for food and leather requires huge amounts of feed, land, water, and fossil fuels. Because leather is a coproduct of the meat industry, if you wear it, you’re also supporting an industry that routinely crams animals together in filthy conditions and sends them to slaughterhouses, where their throats are cut while they’re still conscious.
Many tanneries are concentrated in South Asia, where cows are subjected to horrendous abuse. PETA’s investigation into the Indian leather trade revealed that cows are forced to walk for days without food or water on the way to slaughter. If they collapse, drivers rub chili peppers into their eyes and break their tails to get them up again.
To avoid contributing to the cruelty and pollution of leather, clean the skeletons out of your closet and check out PETA’s shopping guide to cruelty-free clothing.
Written by Heather Faraid Drennan