My Journey of Designing Christian-Inspired Purses:
Becoming More Conscious about Leather
What material is your favorite handbag, wallet, shoes, or belt made of? If you are a person of faith, what is the cover of your sacred book made of? More often than not, these things are made of leather. Leather is a widespread material in the fashion industry – particularly with purses. A vast range of practical and designer brands use leather, from Coach and Gucci to the iconic Hermès Birkin bag. In the bible, leather was used both for clothing (Numbers 31:20; Hebrews 11:37) and for writing.
On my journey of designing a Christian-inspired purse, I researched the leather industry and what I found was shocking. I discovered three things that changed my attitude about the use of leather for fashion. I was not shocked that leather production requires the death of animals. I was shocked at the cruelty in killing animals, the environmental impacts, and the negative impact on workers from the manufacturing process. All this, purely for fashion? It didn’t make sense. A beautiful purse should have a beautiful creation story, not one of pain and suffering.
In this post, I will summarize what I learned about the impact on workers.
|Image by simplyenviro.com||Image by tripadvisor.in|
Impact on Workers
Would you buy a luxury leather purse that will rot and decay? I doubt it.
Leather is exported from countries that frequently lack welfare standards in production, so workers are subjected to toxins and hazards. For example, there is no surprise that China is the world’s largest leather exporter. But before the leather is exported from these countries, it goes through a tanning process to prevent the raw leather from rotting and decaying and so that it can be used for our favorite handbags, wallet, shoes, belts, and that book the beatitudes are found in (the bible).
Chrome is extremely dangerous for workers because of hazards such as exposure to harsh and toxic chemicals and the chance of injury from heavy machinery or flaying knives; drowning, being boiled alive, or buried in lime. Even when these (very real) risks are avoided, chromium exposure is a constant danger for tanning workers. When inhaled as dust, it can cause severe respiratory issues. Exposing the skin to chromium causes erosive ulcerations, among other skin ailments. The worst health impact is that chromium causes cancers, with the risks increasing with exposure.
The awareness I gained about the leather industry to carry or design a nice purse caused me to Pause & Remember those impacted.
Shopping ethically means we can have equally beautiful and quality purses, made without the negative impact on workers and the environment.
Sustainability and awareness for issues like these are gathering ground, but profits from exports will always take precedence for a developing nation. Now it comes back to the consumer (you and me) to make the right choice.
Your Beatitudes is a brand that has compassion because God has compassion. When I designed my first bag, my heart made me want to make the right choice and do my part to cause less harm to people and our planet.
Be on the lookout for future blog posts related to what changed my attitude about leather for fashion and to read about the genuinely sustainable vegan leather that I chose for my Christian-inspired luxury purses.
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