For years people have used leather products because they provided them with a reliable material that had a practical and functional use. Who would have ever heard of a cowboy on a cattle drive riding a plastic saddle? Or what about a nice pair of cotton boots on a cold winter day? Throughout our history, it seems that leather has always been a preferred choice for practicality and durability, regardless of what you are doing.
However, in today’s modern times, we are looking at a world that has introduced a host of new materials and people are beginning to question whether some of these new ideas could serve just as well as leather, and maybe one day actually replace it as a more eco-friendly alternative. It is true that those materials look just as durable and equally as beautiful and in sync with the new more modern trends.
However, leather has evolved over the years to have a fibrous structure that has served as a protection for users from even the most extreme elements.
Leather vs. Cotton
While both are natural materials, in the leather vs. cotton debate there are some pretty strong reasons why you would want to consider leather over cotton. Just because you have a natural material like cotton, it doesn’t necessarily make it eco-friendly, nor does it mean that it is chemical free. When a product is promoted as cotton, it simply means that the original material found in nature has been turned into a fabric. So, the assumption that cotton is going to reduce your carbon footprint is not always accurate. Cotton often uses chemical to help it reach the state where it can be used in a functional way.
You also need to consider the functionality of cotton. From experience, we have learned that cotton is neither stain resistant nor is it anywhere near as durable as leather. Depending on how tight a weave it has, it can be more susceptible to wrinkling or damage. If the weave is tight, cotton can produce a very strong fabric (tote bags for example) that can withstand much pressure, but the tightness of the weave is much more likely to attract dirt and mold, which can be quite difficult to get out, if not impossible.
Leather on the other hand, is strong and durable enough to last for years and only increases in character over time. It is easy to clean and take care of, and few people will dispute the luxurious feel of its soft, but sturdy construction.
Leather vs. Plastic
To that end, there are many who feel that plastic goods are a better option. Granted, many plastic products have been specifically designed to mimic the look and the feel of leather, but they too have some major drawbacks. Adding to the fact that plastic goods are not as durable as leather, they tend to fill up landfills at a much faster rate than any leather products.
The truth is, you get exactly what you pay for. While plastic goods are often less expensive when compared to real leather, chances are within a very short period of time, the cheaper imitations will likely be on their way out, while your leather products will just be beginning to develop some real character.
Many people are quick to point out the affordability of plastics and the lower environmental impact of these goods; plastics are produced predominantly from petroleum, which is a depleting resource around the globe. Even plastics derived from renewable biopolymers like corn come with major concerns when you consider whether they are the best use of biofuels.
Leather vs. Pleather
Faux leather, or pleather as it is sometimes called, is also another popular choice when it comes to alternatives for leather. It is often the choice for those who find real leather to be too expensive or they are animal conscious. While pleather can be almost as durable as leather and just as easy to maintain, it still has its own downfalls. Unlike real leather, it does not have the same kind of give or stretch and is much more susceptible to punctures, which can quickly shorten its lifespan if something were to happen.
Contrary to what many people may believe, leather is very eco-friendly. Not only will it take years to reach the landfills (likely decades after its imitating counterparts), it won’t sit there for long. Because it is 100% natural it is completely biodegradable. Most leather products are not chemically treated, and those products that are, only use a small fraction of the amount of energy and chemicals in comparison with the amount needed to create synthetics.