Be For Change

Sustainable Future

Better uses for Leather Waste: creative designs tackling the problem

Sustainable Future, Upcycled Leather Goods, War on WasteAna CarneiroComment

I have previously written about what different aspects to keep in mind when considering whether to buy leather or fake leather. In this post, we established that cow leather is a by-product of the meat industry (roughly 7.9 billion kilos of green hides come out of abattoirs per year, more than what the leather industry can cope with - source). We also took into consideration the chemicals used in the tanning process and how it fares against fake leather alternatives (they both have a huge environmental footprint). But at the end of the day, by choosing leather you are actually diverting waste from either landfill or incineration, it lasts much longer than the alternatives and nothing out there ages half as gracefully.

But the leather industry itself generates a good deal of waste, mostly in the form of defects and off-cuts: an estimated 805 million kilos per year, as calculated in this report (year 2000). All off-cuts are of finished leather (on average 25% of each hide is wasted), and a lot of defects are likewise only spotted at quality control after processing, meaning that a fair amount of this waste is leather that already has an environmental impact in the form of water, energy and chemical usage, as well as logistics. I’ve been unable to find what percentage of leather waste is fully processed leather, but even if we take the very conservative estimate that maybe 40% of waste total is finished leather in the form of defects and off-cuts, that represents 322 million kilos a year.

The majority of this leather either goes to landfill or is incinerated, with only a small amount being recycled into the manufacture of other products, such as leatherboard - a compound material formed by pressing scrap leather with paper and wood pulp.

Armed with the belief that waste is a failure in creativity, our new products aim to put a dent in these numbers.

Luckily for the environment, we are not the only company diverting this precious material from an untimely end!

Here are a few others championing leather upcycling and recycling:

Pepe Heykoop

Dutch designer Pepe Heykoop has tackled waste in a variety of mediums, and we couldn’t love him more for it! I am not ashamed to admit that I wish I had coined ‘Waste to Wonder’ myself… Pepe has a few different collections of objects made with waste leather, each of them more innovative than the former.

The amount of leather scraps shocked me. In reaction upon that I started to collect the offcuts. Randomly putting them together applying them as a new skin to existing objects. I have had the habit ever since to collect damaged or discarded furniture from the street and flea markets and collected them at my studio. Skin Collection makes use of merging these types of frames for its skeleton, a skin of leather leftovers growing as a cell like structure covering the objects.

 

AURELIE FONTAN

Young fashion designer Aurelie Fontan has been making waves in the fashion world with her designs that are built for circularity (meaning that they can be disassembled for reusing or recycling) and out of sustainable materials - such as leather that was being discarded of. Her new collection will focus on the subject indepth, and in the meantime her first retail product are the below bags made out of recycled leather. This is the kind of approach that could become a trend ;)



Jake Sketch

Jake has taken fine leather waste and given it an innovative use close to his heart: amazing footwear. Not only is this a practical use within an industry renowned for using leather, but it looks fantastic and we want to see it hit the market!

Elvis and Kresse

This waste-fighting duo started off by upcycling old hoses from the London Fire Brigade and have now started incorporating leather off-cuts into their design. Elvis and Kresse offer ‘Sustainable Luxury’ pieces, with a focus on accessories (handbags, wallets and belts) but they also do a few home products.

Elvis-and-Kresse-reclaimed-leather
Elvis-and-Kress-reclaimed-leather-backpack

Walk With Me

If you love great minimal design, the Walk With Me products made out of recycled leather will catch your eye. Functional and practical, they are great everyday companions. This small studio operates out of Madrid and their products are made out of a unique blend of waste leather and natural latex, meaning they are fully natural and compostable at the end of life.

Walk-With-Me-recycled-leather1
Walk-With-Me-recycled-leather-2



And then of course…

Our very own upcycled leather collection is also putting a dent on what goes to waste, and what gets a second chance at life. Our new products have just launched and we are keeping track of how many kilos of leather we’re rescuing - something we will keep you updated on.


Which is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below or on our social media channels!

Ana xx



Live mindful and lessen your impact

Sustainable Future, War on WasteAna CarneiroComment

I've written it a few times in this blog and on the Be For Change website, but don't mind if I repeat it:

Being a mindful individual isn't just about practicing meditation, it's about being a well-informed, aware citizen that takes on a mindful attitude towards their life choices, big and small.

Before starting off the post its worth watching this short documentary from Vox media that explores why we might find it challenging to live and consume mindfully and the implications of such lifestyle. 

Ultimately, this short video argues that we do need the government to pass policies, however these policies aren’t successful without public support. It is through the individual change of consumption and the increase in public awareness that a cultural change occurs, one which acts as a bottom up support for large scale transformations. 

Going green does not need to be a sacrifice, either for us as individuals or for businesses, governments and the economy.

So in this post we are going to discuss how we provide and take part of this bottom up support.

We need to make big changes, and we need to make them happen as soon as possible

The previous blog post discussed the adverse effects of climate change and how much there is already at stake, revealing the urgency of taking action.

While irreversible damage has already been done, we are on time to mitigate the damages. To do this we need to become aware of just how close to home the effects of climate change are - no country or region will ever be the same again. This is where the extreme weather events of this summer can hopefully serve to make people realize the severity of the issue.

It is not only up to our governments and sovereign nations to implement better measures and change how business is done. as the video above shows it's also up to us! We definitely have a significant role to play.

There's no time for us to maintain our current consumption habits and keep living in a linear economy based on extraction, production, use and then waste. Our lifestyle choices are a great place to start.

It is vital that we move away from linear consumption and towards a circular economy, in which there is minimum need for virgin materials and products don’t have built in obsolence. In which outputs eventually become inputs too and businesses adopt production strategies such as upcycling (as Be For Change does). 

simple solutions for a complex problem...

Let's start with the big decisions: the top 3 things one can do to reduce their impact on the planet are to have one less child, to adopt a plant-based diet and to reduce one's use of any and all fossil-fueled methods of transportation (especially cars and airplanes). You might be thinking 'how's that simple?!' but the complicated part is the thinking of it - we'd argue that Not having another child, Not eating meat and Not traveling far away multiple times a year are simpler life choices than having another child, or buying and cooking meat, or planning a transatlantic trip. I call these The Big 3, because despite how clear the research is on these subjects they are highly controversial and emotional topics for many people.

'The Climate Mitigation Gap' study by Wynes and Nicholas assesses the CO2 emissions of different life-decisions and resulted in the following graphic:

Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 23.15.11.png

Please note that this graphic focuses on CO2 emissions and doesn't take into consideration the other benefits of adopting a plant-based diet (such as not contributing to deforestation and the release of methane by livestock, which firmly place it among The Big 3).

So plastic straws or a better kind of single-use coffee cup won't save the world, however they do jump-start a conversation and made many people rethink their use of other plastics. So change your focus, change your consumption habits and shop less. But when you do shop, invest in sustainable and long-lasting products (such as our Bags!).

When one starts their journey into mindful living and consumption it is crucial to be patient and setting realistic targets. 

Once you take the first steps such as carrying your own coffee mug, refusing plastic bags, checking where and in what way you’re clothes were made, these small actions will help you break the cycle. 

A great and impacting first step is to try to reduce your consumption of plastics - start with single-use and then keep going... A great resource is the Guide to Go Plastic Free by Our Good Brands (https://ourgoodbrands.com/). This comprehensive guide is completely free (you just need to fill out your email) and has some great tips! 

If you are in London and want to start shopping 'zero waste', do take a look at the BFC London tabs, or simply find the shops near you in this map:

The journey of mindful consumption is a difficult one a great way to look for tips as well as share your experience/ difficulties is joining some of the Facebook groups We have made one ourselves and if t you would like to share your thoughts check it out!

We also have an event on adopting a Low Waste Lifestyle this Saturday in London, so do come and meet us and ask your questions to our experts in person ;)

Be For Change & EcoACTIVE: let's educate for sustainable living!

Sustainable Future, Bag For Changelidia callejoComment

As a business committed to making the world a more sustainable place, it has always been our aim to partner with other organizations to extend the reach of what we can do. We are finally taking action in a direction which has long been on our minds: we're committing to donate a part of our profits to a charity that shares our mission and values! That charity is the London-based EcoACTIVE!