29th August 2019
While no one can fail to be horrified by the fires burning in the Amazon rainforest, the suggestion by Lucy Siegle that they are driven by the production of leather (Burning issue: how fashion's love of leather is fuelling the fires in the Amazon ) is a grotesque distortion of the facts.
Cattle are reared for beef and globally, meat consumption is rising. In contrast, demand for hides and leather has fallen. In Brazil, hide and leather prices have fallen by 53% in the past two years, and leather exports have also fallen. Ten percent of the hides produced are now not even prepared for leather manufacture. The hide and subsequent leather are by-products for which farmers receives no return. If leather was the driving force for the fires in the Amazon, they would not have been lit.
It is also entirely misleading to conflate increased shoe consumption with leather production. The volume of leather used in footwear has fallen by over 15% since 2010, while the increase in footwear manufacture has been driven by the boom in athleisure, largely using unsustainable, synthetics materials derived from petrochemicals.
The burning of the Amazon is completely unacceptable, but leather is not to blame.