If you have read my recent article about our KeriKit Commitment, you will know that for KeriKit, 2022 is all about doing good in the world as an ethical accessories brand. As climate change becomes an ever more pressing issue, more and more of us are aware of the impact that our purchases have on the planet and are choosing to shop more consciously, with the aim of creating a better planet for our children. As part of this, in recent years we have seen the rise of vegan leather, leather made from pineapple leaves, mushrooms, cork, apple peels and polyurethane to name a few. At KeriKit, we are constantly investigating other sustainable materials that can be used within our collections but the question of the sustainability of leather is not a simple one…
How Sustainable are KeriKit Leather Bags?
Not only are our KeriKit leather bags a beautiful and practical accessory, but they are also designed to be high-quality and long-lasting so that if you look after and cherish your bag, it can last a lifetime. Despite its durability, we know there is an environmental cost to leather and so as part of our environmental commitment, we are committed to planting a tree with Oblong Trees for every KeriKit order, as the first step of working towards making each sale carbon neutral.
Sustainable Leather Bags that Last a Lifetime
As well as ensuring our bags last a lifetime whilst also offsetting the carbon emissions produced by our products, we are also passionate about making sure that our bags can be treasured for as long as possible. With this in mind, at the beginning of the year we announced our partnership with Smart Works, a charity that helps unemployed women to return to the workplace in style. We understand that over time, you might want to swap your KeriKit ladies laptop bag for something from our new collection. As part of our Smart Works partnership, we want to encourage you to donate your pre-loved KeriKit bags to Smart Works, where they will be treasured by another woman. In return for helping a vulnerable woman get back into work whilst simultaneously helping the planet, we will give you 15% off your next purchase if you donate your pre-loved KeriKit bag to Smart Works.
Is Vegan Leather or Real Leather More Sustainable?
As a company, we are learning. We are continually researching and investigating how we can improve to be even more environmentally friendly. I recently went to Italy to see what was happening in Europe with regards to sustainable leathers. It was really impressive to see that new technologies mean that there are now naked leathers, which means there is no chrome, no chemicals are used during the tanning process and there is also less water used during production. Our KeriKit Signature Collection is one such naked leather and introducing this environmentally conscious collection is one of our first steps towards offering an even more sustainable leather option in our business.
As part of my environmental mission (both within KeriKit and personally) to create a better world for our children, we are looking at factories within Portugal, Italy and Spain and looking to source our leathers locally from there. By moving to use factories in Europe, we would be able to incorporate more sustainable leather options into our collections. We are always looking to add additional sustainable leathers to our KeriKit collection which may include buying from Europe if we manage to source a suitable factory for this.
Vegan Leather, Sustainability and the Greenwashing Issue
Vegan leather is simply a product that has been made to look like real leather but does not contain animal products. Some of these vegan leather products are are made from polyurethane which is plastic. Unlike real leather, this polyurethane leather (plastic) cannot be recycled and is not biodegradable. Yet polyurethane is being presented as vegan leather and there is a lot of greenwashing at the moment which is presenting these vegan bags as the more sustainable option. Polyurethane does not come from a cow so it is vegan but it is plastic and will actually remain on the planet for much longer than leather, making it much less sustainable than it may first appear.
The Challenges of Finding the Most Sustainable Leather
Although the environmental issues with polyurethane mean that this is not a leather option we are considering, we are researching other more sustainable vegan leathers including cactus, mushroom and pineapple. All of which are brilliant, however the prices that we were receiving as a small business for cactus leather were 4x more expensive than a real leather bag. For example, our Lennox Black Conda bag which is currently made in our beautiful leather and retails at £345 would be £1380 for the cactus leather alternative.
Frustratingly, on the high street, the big brands are creating false economies whereby cactus leather boots, from the same supplier that we would like to work with, are being sold for less than the real leather alternative. Here, this is likely to be a loss leader which is not sustainable because these large brands are deflating the price of the cactus leather. In turn, this devalues the cactus leather in the market so that when a small business like KeriKit looks to use cactus leather in a sustainable way for longevity, it is impossible because the price we are quoted is four times that of our leather. This is the same for any of the other plant-based vegan leather options that are out there, which makes it very difficult for us.
Our Journey to Making the Most Sustainable Leather Bags
We are not perfect and we know that there is still more to be done. We are taking steps in the right direction and are proud to design beautiful bags which last a lifetime and if your journey with a KeriKit bag has come to an end, we encourage all of our customers to donate their bag to Smart Works in exchange for 15% off your new bag. In addition, we are committed to offsetting the carbon produced by our products with our tree planting scheme and our Signature Collection brought natural leather to KeriKit. We are continually researching and investigating plant-based leather options. We will continue to search until we find the perfect plant-based leather that matches our current KeriKit leathers both in terms of beauty and in terms of price.
Some articles you may like:
- Creating the Perfect Nursery Setting for Your Little one
- Being a Sustainable Parent - What does it mean in 2022?
- Everything You Need To Know About The Luxury Amber Tan Leather Organiser Backpack
- To find out more about our products and brand and to get involved what happens next, visit our KitGirl Club and join the fun :)