“I’m alive, I have a life, my flesh is alive. Why should I eat something that’s dead?”
- RZA, Tao of Wu
As you might of guessed by RZA's dietary leanings, we don't use any animal leather at 36 Chambers. The Debossed Vegan Leather Wallet we just released this week as part of the "Golden Dragon Rises Collection" is made of a very durable polyurethane leather.
We have various reasons for why we forgo animal leather. For RZA, it has to do with animal cruelty first and foremost. Speaking for myself, the deleterious environmental effects of raising animals (in particular cattle) is what drew me into looking more into vegan leather options.
The field of vegan leather is still relatively young, and new types are continuously making their way to market. We recently came across pineapple leather, which we're excited to check out in the near future.
One promising aspect of a plant-based leather is that it is biodegradable. The biggest downside of current plastic-based leather is that it takes about 500 years to break down, whereas animal leather decomposes in 50 years.
For those who would argue that leather is simply a by-product of meat consumption, One Green Planet reports that a cow's skin accounts for 10% of its worth—that would make a cow's skin the most valuable part of its body on a pound-for-pound basis.
Thus, we should consider skin as a primary product of a cow such as the sirloin or rib. When farmers are deciding whether or not to raise cattle livestock, the price of the cow's skin is taken into consideration.
As silly as it sounds, we need to take the same approach when purchasing a leather-based item; buying an animal leather wallet is the same as buying a steak at the market.
As a side note, we're not a fully vegan company just yet. In 2016 we are using wool, but we'll be phasing wool out by spring of 2017.