The debate has been going on for years now: is leather good or bad, sustainable or unsustainable, ethical or unethical? We share our research on leather as a byproduct material, real leather vs fake leather, and if it can be considered ethical. Read on to decide if leather fits your sustainable and ethical lifestyle!
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.
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:
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 ;)
It is one thing to talk about how we should be implementing circular economy principles and it’s another thing to put it in action. Here are some firms which are not only managing this but doing it in a creative way.
What is the circular economy and how can we adopt a system that encourages the continuous reuse of resources? Lidia looks into the subject after attending a series of talks on the subject.
How can we beat plastic pollution and foster a better relationship with this troublesome material in our lives? We explore the role of plastics in our lives and in digital media to better understand what alternatives will lead to solutions.
Let’s explore the idea that nothing is waste until we decide to waste it. Materials and products that have served their purpose do not need to be wasted, if only we can give them new life - these companies have successfully done so and it’s inspiring!
Now that I've got your attention ;)
I recently posted about being given some leather to experiment with, to test the feasibility of using scraps of leather from the automotive industry to make new products with. You can read all about that here. Now I'm answering that question: yes, it is feasible. In fact, it worked perfectly for homewares.
Once I got over my initial repulsion to the leather (because I've mostly given up leather unless I previously owned it, it is not aligned with my values), I quickly got into the rhythm of quite enjoying working with it. Initially I was attempting to make a rug... and while I still love the idea of it, my crafts skills just didn't live up to the challenge. So I turned directions, and created the three products in this post instead.
They are all made from scrap leather off-cuts, and to best make use of the material properties of leather I decided to make the kind of products that I hope you guys will love and want to keep for a really long time.
First up are drinks coasters, by far the easiest and therefore most affordable items that we're launching. They'll be up on the shop as soon as there are a few more sets finished, and I'm looking to potentially collaborate with a lettering artist who can customize them. (If you know of anyone London based who might be interested, let me know!)
Second on the list, beautiful and dainty leather bags for the home. These are made from long yet relatively narrow off-cuts sewn together. What I really enjoy about these bags is just how adaptable they are: you can turn them inside out, fold a cuff to show both sides of the leather, use them for just about anything from keeping frequently used items to displaying your favourite plants in. Amazing feedback has already been coming in on these, which will be made on request for the time being.
The third and more expensive item on the list is the leather cushion. It has leather on one side and swede on the other, it is incredibly hard wearing and much comfier than I expected. It beautifully displays the material. It really does have the feel of a luxurious product. I've only made one so far - and that is because my cute little home-sewing-machine is just not strong enough for me to be sewing through 3 layers of leather... So, again, if you know a skilled leather worker who might be interested in partnering up for this product, let me know!
So, what do you think? Would you buy them? Do you know of potential retailers?
This is my first time creating and launching homewares with Be For Change, so any advice and feedback will be most appreciated!
PS: backdrop and beautiful cocktails kindly provided by Qbic Hotel
What can we do with leather off-cuts? The leather industry has a large environmental footprint and throwing away leather is a waste of resources, so we explore what to do with it.
A zero waste lifestyle. What does that mean, exactly? It’s a tricky one to explain as the name itself can be quite misleading. I still produce waste. I still buy (some) items in packaging.
Essentially, Zero Waste is the goal - the elusive carrot that dangles just out of reach. It means I take a considered approach to my life. I live in alignment with my values and at the same time, I have dramatically reduced the amount of waste I send to landfill.