Sunday, March 01, 2009

Divine Bovine

Who’s The Bos?

Are you part of a conspiracy for murder or are you just being fashionable? Some segments of the fashion world have been at war for years with animal activist groups. The subject for battle involves rights and ethics towards incorporating animals into attire. Debates and discussions kindle and burn for hours over ‘fur in fashion’. Opinions generated by this argument usually boil down to one of sympathy and empathy. However, when examining the leather industry and their fight with animal rights group’s different views are approached. Is leather a product of cruelty or a product of renewal?

‘Steer Clear of Cruelty’
Some boycott the purchase of leather products, which is fine. The idea of saving animals lives may help you sleep better at night. Maybe it will give you the feeling that you have made a difference. Or maybe you’ve gone Vegan to show the healthy humanitarian in you. Whatever waves your flag. The very thought of how some of these animals are treated can be unsettling. These cows can be subjected to muddy grazing fields, cruel crowd control from the farmers and uncomfortable living quarters. The lifestyle of a cow is not glamorous by any means. To increase milk production some farmers inject their cows with hormone enhancing drugs. The side effects are painful and grueling on the animals. Infected utters, deformed calf’s and calcium deficiencies can lead to poor production and premature death amongst the cows. Luckily it’s not the entire farming industry that is guilty for using these cruel practices. Further more there is not a clear link between the leather industry and the cruelty towards cows.

If you happen to still be unsure of what side of the fence you sit on for this matter, here are three ways to enjoy the beauty of leather while still sustaining your moral codes. The first method is a developing trend in the fashion business that involves recycling. Recycling leather is a way of gathering and sorting grades of leather so they can be used for other uses. This method cuts back on the amount of waste from leather that is sent to our landfills. The scraps and off cuts of the recycled leather is then produced into a new design, giving life to a new style of garment.

The second way to enjoy leather is by catering towards a trend of the 21st Century. The popularity of vintage clothing is quite astounding. Neglected boots and jackets are collected and put up for sale in numerous stores. Each article waits patiently for its new owner to come along and give it new life. This method allows you to enjoy the outlandish designs of past generations. Interestingly enough the older the leather, the more stress its been through. Like a human face every line tells a story, vintage leather is no different.

The last way to enjoy your leather guilt free is to do what a man from does. He doesn’t eat meat and he doesn’t kill cows, however, he makes a living making leather goods. His prided company only uses cows that have died form natural causes. The logistics of this last method are complicated and unrealistic unless you live on a farm or have your own leather processing equipment. Regardless, these three ways can help you avoid any guilt or remorse you may have about wearing leather.

Cow bad is it?
It is not surprising that certain cultures around the globe identify bovine creatures as sacred animals. The amount of resources a simple cow can produce is mind blowing. The undermined fact of this leather issue is that leather is a by-product of the cow. What this means is that an entire cow is not sacrificed for one piece of leather. The case is quite different. The number one purpose of most cows is to live a full life of producing milk. The second purpose is for beef products. Most humans depend on beef for a source of food. After our grocery stores are filled with beef there is still use left of the cow. Fatty and steric acids from the animal are used for lubricants, cosmetics, dyes and prints. Many gelatinated products are produced from the bones and other internal parts of the cow. An industry that widely benefits from these by-products is the pharmaceutical industry. Gel capsules, iron supplements and a variety of other medications derive from parts of their organs.

When we are left with a slab of skin it seems pretty wasteful to just toss it in the garbage. What can we do? Learn from our First Nations people. Leather dates back to when Natives started processing leather to make products that would guard themselves form the elements. The resourcefulness of these people is what created an industry. When they killed a bovine animal they would get as much use of it as they could. They would eat it, use the fat as oil and use the bones as weapons. All that would be left is the skin; from there they would process the skin and use it for blankets, shelter and protection.
Is the issue more legible? Is wearing leather still just a primitive act for humans? Will you think any differently when you spot that leather hyde draped over a persons back. The question you have to ask yourself in the end is whether it is a sin to kill? Or is it a sin to waste something that’s already been killed?

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