The introduction of faux leather to the market opened doors for more sustainable alternatives and practices. As a synthetic leather it provided to leather lovers an option that took a step away from traditional animal leather. Made of fabric coated with polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride, faux leather has been a haulmark for sustainable choices that both adhered to the demand, without compromising on the quality.
In recent years however, there has been some speculation whether faux leather is truly as sustainable as it was assumed to be. With new innovations and technologies, it is now time to wonder if real leather causes more harm than PU leather and if there are other new alternatives to explore.
Quality and Durability:
As an imitation product created to look and feel like leather, faux leather does live upto to its expectations. With advancements in the way artificial leather is produced, it has come remarkably close to imitating the real alternative. However, real leather still beats it when the question of durability is posed. While high quality faux leather are relatively more durable, they still cannot stand against real leather. Unlike real leather which develops distinctive patinas, artificial leather is made to look vintage. Besides, once faux leather suffers any form of cracks or tears, it has to be replaced. These days there are also greener faux leather options, such as pineapple leather or kraft paper. For example this kraft paper vegan belt that is partly biodegradable!
Variation and Options:
Real leather is known for its sleek and vintage aesthetic. It has a distinctive patina or the soft sheen that develops over years with exposure and usage. This very property gives real leather its unique personality and character. Faux leather on the other hand is artificially given the vintage aesthetic. However, due to its artificial production, faux leather is also available in a number of colors and styles. It comes with convincing variations in grain, color and texture providing a plethora of new options to choose from. A good quality artificial leather also has better resistance to cracks and does not fade easily which also makes it a good polyurethane upholstery for pet accessories.
As a product created primarily for sustainable use, faux leather definitely beats real leather in this category. Also termed as vegan leather, the artificially produced product is not just animal friendly, but also causes less damage during manufacturing. However, there are other concerns that come up in this regard. Since synthetic leather has a considerable plastic content in it, it does take longer to decompose. When looked at in terms of carbon footprint and toxins, both real leather and faux leather more or less impact the environment equally. Therefore, from a more holistic perspective, while faux leather does seem like a better option, it still does not dramatically outperform its real counterpart.
Comfort and Maintenance:
If comfort is your priority while looking for leather based products, then faux leather is going to disappoint you. Most synthetic leathers are layered with a plastic coating which blocks all porous gaps for the fabric to breathe. Any clothing made of this material would trap moisture to skin, making it an uncomfortable experience. But if you are not looking to wear leather but rather use it in upholstery then synthetic leather is a good option. It is easy to clean and does not require professional attention for cleaning purposes. This makes it a good option for public places and healthcare environments.
Although faux leather comes with its own set of environmental problems, it still is a good alternative to real leather. Investing in a good quality faux leather can help avoid its disadvantages while also making a greener choice. But if you are not satisfied then there are other sustainable alternatives available. Plant-based leather has emerged as an exciting frontier for greener alternatives. Moreover, lifestyle practices like using upcycled leather or choosing faux leather made of recycled materials can also prove to be good options.