First of all, the practice of getting leather is not at all green or nice for the animals whose skin makes up that leather. We have heard about a video that shows a cow being skinned alive for its hide. That alone is reason enough for us not to buy leather. It should be noted that those companies that use those types of practices are the minority rather than the majority.
Second, the tanning industry in large scale terms uses a lot of energy, and as we all know, energy means CO2 production usually, and that means greenhouse gases being put into the atmosphere.
To understand the effect of the tanning industry on the environment, here is the process.
- The hides are prepared by using salt.
- The hides are soaked with perfectly good water to remove all that salt.
- The hides are then treated with one or more of the following chemicals to get rid of the hair: sodium sulfide, sodium hydroxide, sodium hydrosulfite, arsenic sulfide, calcium hydrosulfide, dimethyl amine, sodium suphydrate
- Once the hair is gone, the hides are put through another salt and suphuric acid treatment.
- The hides are soaked in water again
- The actual tanning is performed with chromium sulfate.