When we talk about leather bags we need to stop for a while and make sure that everyone knows the differences between Real Leather and Alternative Materials (Vegan Leather, Synthetic Leather ecc).

The Italian System of Leather includes a regulation directed by the Icec (Institution of certification for Leather companies), which the principal aim is to regulate the Italian production of leather with low environmental impact. In addition, the Italian system follows the directions of the EU Reach system to improve the protection of human health and the environment with regard to chemicals.

It is good to remind that genuine leather is a by-product of the food industry, so if leather would not be manufactured it would end up in a landfill site.
The term “vegan” refers to any material or object of non-animal origin.
Vegan leather is made of synthetic component materials. Vegan does not mean that it has less impact on the environment, even though the materials used can be recycled or can be biodegradable.
When we talk about synthetic leather, we are referring to materials created from plastic and fossil fuels such as oil. This means that using the term “leather” is incorrect, because basically they do not have the same properties and qualities of natural leather.
Natural components from fruits and vegetables skin are extracted and mixed into a compost in order to create leather imitations but, most of the time, the element they are mixed with is PU or PVC, in other words, plastic, which gives strength and body.

How to make the best sustainable purchasing choice when we decide to buy a real leather bag?

Individual choices make the difference if these are made in informed and conscious ways.
Real leather bags, hand crafted, brings us quite near some import aspects of sustainability.
First of all the focus goes beyond the responsible sourcing of raw materials and animal welfare : no animal is killed just for the skins, and the methods use low-energy and environmentally-friendly practices, such as investing in water depuration systems and waste recycling.

The design is another step to be valued: intended as functionality and time lasting. Leather is a long-lasting product, in fact, it can last for decades, maintaining unaltered its characteristics: it is a strong material and maintains its flexibility and shape over time.
Leather products also can be re-used to create new products or added to other materials to turn them into a compost to obtain new ones.

To notice that when leather goods are made by artisanal production, the raw materials are selected carefully by local suppliers and many artisans use vegetable tanned leather. The production is made in small quantities to avoid stockage of goods and over production.

In conclusion, when it comes to make a self-conscious and sustainable purchasing decision, we all have the responsibility to take into account the quality of the product that we are going to buy but also the impact on the planet.