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Leather is not a by-product .. it is a product
 Excerpts from a paper written by Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D.
 

The reality of the leather trade trashes these comfortable notions. Leather production may be the cruelest, most unnecessary of all evils perpetrated upon our animal neighbors, causing more suffering than any other practice.

Today's meat industry is not sustainable on its own, and it relies on skin sales to remain profitable. The skin of a slaughtered animal accounts for 55 percent of the value of the products of that animal other than meat. Leather isn't a harmless slaughterhouse byproduct. The meat industry relies on skin sales to stay in business.

Leather is not the environmentally friendly product that the industry has suggested. The adverse environmental and health impacts of the leather industry are huge. Animal skin is turned into finished leather by the use of many dangerous mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and cyanide based oils and dyes. These chemicals prevent the leather from being naturally biodegradable as the industry claims. (the fur trade also makes the same claims - JM) Leather products can last thousands of years and the toxic chemicals with which they are infused leach into the environment during that time. Leather pieces found in Northern Germany were estimated to be 12,000 years old, dating from the Neolithic and European Bronze Ages!

People who have worked in and lived near tanneries have died of cancer from groundwater contaminated by the toxic chemicals used to process and dye the leather. A New York State Department of Health study found that more than half of all testicular cancer victims worked in tanneries.

Huge amounts of fossil fuels are consumed in livestock and leather production, while plastic wearable items account for only a fraction of one percent of the petroleum used in the United States. The amount of energy consumed by the leather industry ranks among the paper, steel, cement and petroleum manufacturing industries.

Non-leather sports equipment is readily available. Finding alternatives to leather is easy. I have non-leather shoes, hiking boots, belts, and bags that wear, look and feel like leather. I even have drums without skin heads. The links below will tell you how to find them.

Species that are hunted and killed specifically for their skins include: zebras, bison, water buffalos, boars, deer, kangaroos, elephants, eels, sharks, dolphins, seals, walruses, frogs, crocodiles, lizards, and snakes. Some of the leather from these animals that makes it to retail outlets is obtained illegally.

Here are some other horrific examples of imported leather goods:

Like those soft, kid leather gloves? Kid goats may be boiled alive to make them, and the skins of purposely aborted calves and lambs are considered especially luxurious.

Snakes and lizards are often skinned alive because of the widespread belief that live flaying imparts suppleness to the finished leather.

Like that exotic and expensive ostrich skin wallet? Farmers strip ostriches of their feathers before slaughtering them by pulling feathers from their sockets with pliers or shaving them off with electric shears. The "New York Times" reported that a slaughterer in California said it took him "two hours of violent struggle to kill a single ostrich."

Like that alligator skin handbag? PETA has observed workers in alligator factory farms smashing animals over the head with aluminum baseball bats and slicing through their spinal cords with steel chisels and hammers. Some alligators remained conscious and in agony for up to two hours.

It is so easy for us to break the chain of separation from nature that has allowed such cruelty to exist. All we have to do is stop buying leather.

It is time for the rationalizations to end - and along with them, the suffering.

RESOURCES

2. Learn more about the cruelties of factory farms from Farm Sanctuary at:
http://www.farmsanctuary.org/and the Humane Farming Association at: http://www.hfa.org/

 3. Read about the Environmental Protection Agency's animal waste management activities at: http://www.epa.gov/region09/cross_pr/animalwaste/action.html

 4. Get help changing your diet and lifestyle from Earthsave at: http://www.earthsave.org/ and the Vegetarian Resource Group at: http://www.vrg.org

Source: jackie@healingourworld.com


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