People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals says the rear label on Levi Strauss jeans that proclaims the brand name should be changed since it is made of cow leather. The animal rights group is calling on the brand to ditch animal-derived leather for a more ethical alternative, specifically vegan leather. Animal leather generates three times the environmental impact of its vegan counterpart, which is typically made from synthetic materials such as polyvinyl chloride or polyurethane.
The Higg Materials Sustainability Index, a cradle-to-gate material scoring tool from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, rates cow leather as the number one material with the greatest upstream burden. Leather is considered to be a high impact material due to the swaths of land required for cattle grazing and growing feed, the levels of methane the animals release and the amounts of energy tanneries consume.
Animal leather often comes from cows who endure confinement, food and water deprivation, extreme crowding and disease. Branding, tail-docking, dehorning and castration are all commonly performed on them without painkillers, and they’re transported hundreds of miles to feed lots and slaughterhouses, where many are skinned while still conscious.
Denim giant Levi’s has listed empathy as one of its core values.