So, what exactly is vegetable tanned leather? There are a lot of leather options out there – it can get confusing!
First, let’s start with the basics. Leather is a material created from the hide of an animal, most frequently steer. In reality, these hides are a biproduct of the meat industry and, if not tanned into beautiful leather, it would end up garbage in a landfill. Leather is truly trash to treasure.
What is Vegetable Tanned?
This is often abbreviated as simple “veg tan”, but I’ve found that in written word that is often confused with “vegan”, which it is very much not. Vegan leather is plastic. Vegetable tanned leather is real leather, carefully tanned in time honored practices.
Vegetable tanning is slow. It can be laborious. It’s thoughtful and careful and precise.
Vegetable tanning takes organic matter, such as the bark of the mimosa and hemlock trees, and uses them to preserve and beauty the animal hide. The hide is more or less steeped in a tea, which then starts the process of preservation. This process has been used for hundreds of years, over time and place the skill of vegetable tanning has been passed down and remembered.
You’re part of the story!
It’s beautiful to think of all of the people over the course of human history who have tanned and used hides, so similar to the ones we still use today. Honoring the animal, the tanner, and the earth with this amazing skill. To use a piece of vegetable tanned leather is to be a part of this history.
Vegetable tanned leather is also unique in its full circle ability to compost. From a biproduct of the meat industry, saved from a landfill, the hides become beautiful leather. Vegetable tanned leather is incredibly durable and will last for years and years of daily use.
But eventually, it will reach the end of its life span. Here is when you can finally place it in the compost, to go back to the land. Perhaps it will one day be soil that grows the grass the feed another herd of cattle. Mother Nature always has a beautiful plan.