Like most people, when I hear the terms "eco fashion," "sustainable fashion" or something similar, I imagine prohibitively expensive hemp backpacks or yoga leggings and my eyes begin to gloss over. But more and more, it's becoming obvious that our attention needs to be focused on the ethics of fashion and the impact our consumerism has on the environment, factory workers and the lives of animals.
Behind the oil and agricultural industries, the fashion industry is the third most polluting industry in the world. And it is both the agricultural and fashion industries that we must take into account when it comes to the production of leather and the sale of leather goods.
Our food system is one of the most polarizing topics today with everyone weighing in with an opinion. But everyone from the most carnivorous of us to the vegans can probably agree that industrial animal farming is a destructive force that is in need of major reform.
Nowadays, most of our meat comes from CAFOs. "CAFOs" or Confined Animal Feeding Operations, also known as Factory Farms, raise large numbers of animals (typically 1,000 or more) in small areas. These animals are fed unnatural diets, hormones and antibiotics to maximize their growth in the shortest period of time.
Factory farming is bad news for the family farm: In North Carolina, there was an 80% reduction in traditional farms thanks to overwhelming competition from factory farms.
Factory farming is bad news for our health: To compensate for the unhealthy conditions these animals are raised in, as well as their unnatural diet, cows are given heavy doses of antibiotics. There are 80 different types of antibiotics that are approved to be in cows milk.
Factory farming is bad news for the environment: The annual cost of environmental damage from factory farming is approximately $34.7 billion. Yes, that's billion with a B.
This goes way beyond the fact that factory farming results in the mistreatment, suffering and death of billions of animals. This is an environmental issue spanning from soil contamination to greenhouse gas emissions to some of the highest amounts of wasted energy and water. And beyond that is the threat to our health. The widespread addition of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and dioxins have been found to increase the risk of cancer, heart problems and degenerative diseases is humans.
Here at Heist we know better than to use the cheapest, most easily sourced leather. Our leather comes from two sources:
1) Salvaged Leather - From vintage leather jackets to discarded leather couches, our salvaged leather comes from a variety of sources. Americans throw away over 14 million tons of textiles every year and 85% of it ends up in landfills. We love transforming unwanted, unloved leather into new usable pieces and if we can help reduce our landfill waste, even better.
2) Bison Leather - We source our bison leather from a small company in Colorado whose bison are all free-range, raised for their meat and hides. They are a member of the National Bison Association who require members to subscribe to a strict code of ethics which ensures the humane and sustainable raising of the American Bison. Sure, these hides cost us a little more, but knowing these beautiful animals were ethically raised (and not stuffed in a dark crate!) sure does make us feel better about using their leather.
We know that reforming a huge industrial operation like our food system is a long and complicated process, but we also know that we cast a vote for the world we want to live in every time we spend our money. We want you to feel good about spending your money with us. Not only are you getting a handmade, quality product, you're helping to make a difference.