Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Hide & The Seeker: a guide map (of sorts) for the lost >>>>>>>>>>> Part 1

By Peta

Being a fashion lover means you love great design and stylish living, and you probably have an insatiable love for bags, shoes and leather goods of all kinds. Of course, there are bags and shoes that are created from non-leather (or faux leather) materials, but let's face it nothing comes close to high-quality genuine leather. Fake is not real...

Everyone knows where leather comes from, and how it is manufactured.
Leather is basically the skin of what was once a living creature, it's not quite like Satin or Velvet - is it?

The dilemma is- how do we indulge our love for beautiful leather goods, without being a part of the associated cruelty? Is it even possible? The entire issue is quite complicated; here are just some of the things that make it so-
  • Are we talking about cow & goat leather or exotic skins (from wild animals we do not eat)?
  • If we stop using leather what happens to the hides generated from the meat we consume (because that is not stopping anytime soon)?
  • Isn't it okay if we can breed wild animals in captivity and we don't kill the wild ones?
  • Aren't "higher beings" supposed to use lower life forms- isn't that the natural order?
  • Is it about the animals, or is it about pollution and exploitation of workers (which is about us humans again)?

Well, as you see the subject cannot be covered, understood or solved with any degree of thoroughness
in a single blog post- but that isn't our intention anyway.

Now, at the risk of over simplification, typically there are 3 types of responses to leather (other responses lie somewhere along the spectrum)-
I love it, I don't care where it comes from and if I don't buy it someone else will.
I love it. I know about those horror stories, and they bother me, but I'm not sure what I can do; I choose to ignore the problem and live with the pangs of guilt I feel. I wish there was a better way...
I hate it, people who love leather are inhuman monsters, and everybody should go vegan- tomorrow.

The problem with response 1 is- it's reckless, selfish & cruel, but partially correct (the someone else bit)
The problem with response 3 is- it's too 'green & idealistic', and not for everybody. It's wishful thinking.
The problem with response 2 is- it's not even a real response, it's called avoidance.

This post is mostly for the response 2 people, that is where the majority of fashion lovers sit today.
As long as you feel guilty once-in-a-while but continue to buy leather- you are our target audience.

By accepting that we are conflicted about leather, we can face reality and move towards finding a solution, rather than living in denial and continuing down the path of reckless consumption - like the response 1 folks.

To be honest, we don't really want everyone to become like the 3s either- unless you genuinely feel that way.
You'll stop enjoying fashion, be perpetually full of angst & guilt, and unless you become a full-fledged wildlife activist or Stella McCartney, or a tissue engineer growing real leather in the lab- you'll not contribute in any meaningful way. Nothing will change fast, you'll die unhappy.

Just because there is no hope for quick success in the matter, it doesn't mean the situation is hopeless.
Let us focus, instead, on what we can do; let's list out some practical but effective steps that we can take to become more aware and responsible in our choices- without giving up entirely, on leather.
If enough people do even that much, things can get a lot better.
If not, at least you're trying, and you don't have to feel guilty anymore!

So, response 2 folks- let's be smart here. Our aim is to create a rough  "decision-tree" and some action points  that will get you what you want (beautiful shoes and bags), with the least amount of "sacrifice" to your satisfaction levels, and with far less guilt.This, of course, would be just a rough guide; you'll  have to invest some time in reading and reflection, and create a specific plan for yourself.

Once you clarify/ articulate (to yourself) a coherent position regarding how you really feel about leather, and how much you are willing to do/ give up, you can create your personal action plan that feels authentic (so you will be more likely to follow through). Remember- It doesn't have to be burdensome, you just need 5-6 action points/rules that you vow to follow consistently.
There are some excellent sources of information (interesting articles) linked below which may help you to gain better perspective on the entire matter. In the second part of this post, we will attempt to draft a rough action plan.

Tell us what you think in the comments section, and stay tuned for part 2...


Leather, what’s ethical and what’s not?

Don't hide from the truth

How Can Leather Be Real & Ethical?

PETA - behind the leather video

See you soon...

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