Earlier this year, TheGirlieGirl Army answered the question, “Is Leather Eco-Friendly?” Here is the gist:
“From start to finish the amount of energy to create a leather hide is 20 times greater than that to produce a synthetic material. The production of leather requires: transport of feed to animals, removal of waste from animals, electricity in housing facility, electricity for other operations and killing in facility, pesticide use, vaccine and antibiotic use, transport to remove carcasses, transport of pelts; then to a tannery which involves sorting, soaking, fleshing, tanning, wringing, drying, kicking, cleaning, trimming, buffing, drying, finishing; then transport to the garment maker, then a wholesaler, and so on”
You can read the whole article at GGA, or go directly to the article’s sources:
1-Leather and the environment – Article from E/ The Environmental Magazine http://www.healthnewsdigest.com/news/Environment_380/Leather_and_the_Environment.shtml
2-UN Report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” 2006-http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM
3-Doris Schubert, “Assessment of the Environmental Release of Chemicals From the Leather Processing Industry,” IC-07 Leather Processing Industry 28 Jul. 1998.
4- Adventures in the Skin Trade, Forbes.com http://www.forbes.com/business/forbes/2007/1126/142.html
5-United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Regis Tannery,” Waste Site Cleanup and Reuse in New England 9 Aug. 2006.