Why leather is ideal for building a circular economy
One of the ways we can build a more sustainable future is to develop a ‘circular economy’. A circular economy is defined as “an economic system of closed loops in which raw materials, components and products lose their value as little as possible, renewable energy sources are used and systems thinking is at the core.” As a rare material that improves with age, genuine leather is uniquely suited to fit into such an economic model and it’s just another way in which this natural material demonstrates its sustainable credentials.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was set up to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. One of its case studies highlights Better World Fashion – a ground-breaking company determined to make the notoriously throwaway world of fashion more sustainable. Better World Fashion identified leather clothing as the ideal candidate for their ground-breaking business model, which goes way beyond simply recycling materials.
By collecting used leather from across Denmark, Better World Fashion repairs or entirely refashions the material into new garments, which it sells at prices similar to brand new items. The company can do this because of leather’s unique patina which actually adds value with age rather than depreciating as most other materials do.
Owners of the new jackets are encouraged to recycle them once more when they fancy a change. Leather’s durability means its usable lifetime can be extremely long but, even when it can no longer be sold as a jacket it can be reused in smaller items like gloves or wallets. Round and round it goes.
Few other materials can deliver value over the long term in this way, which is one of the reasons why leather continues to be the material of choice, not only in fashion but in the automotive sector too.
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