marimekko bags
Australia, blogging

Is Buying Vegan Better?

I ‘m the type of girl who’s rarely without some kind of handbag, or tote. I have many. My so-named ‘bag-robe,’ consists of various D.I.Y. constructions, which have either been recycled, or have recycled fabric or zips incorporated into them. Many I’ve hand-made or hand-painted. There’s one exception to this and it’s that one exception that had me fooled, big time.

Tending to look for environmentally savvy choices when making purchases, I try hard not to add to plastic pollution, in the environment. This time, however, I confess to failing miserably – buying a Vegan leather bag a year or two ago. 

I was seduced by the bag’s clever design with many hidden pockets and versatile zippered pouches. The price was more than I’d ever paid for a bag; yet I justified the purchase because it was Australian made and knowing it costs far more to produce things in our affluent Australian society. People do need high wages to live here. 

But instead of buying something unsustainable and avoiding plastics, I now realize I’ve inadvertently done just that.  Most mainstream vegan leather is made from PU or polyurethane leather, which is really a thermoplastic polymer and not terribly sustainable – at all. 

Is vegan leather any better for the planet? 

Whilst vegan leather may be good news for the bovines of the world, vegan PU leather is impossible to recycle. So it is definitely not sustainable, or environmentally friendly, at all.

Despite this, PU leather is increasingly used in the manufacture of lounges and home leather furnishings. Being 100% animal product free earns a tick of approval from the animal welfare lobby, but a PU product is not sustainable and what is worse – it is just another form of plastic! Buying a second hand leather bag would have been a better choice.

To be honest, it was the style of this bag itself that garnered my attention – it was eminently practical and had a great shoulder strap. The straps are durable, but of course, now I know why! They are plastic and won’t decompose.

And the price wasn’t cheap. I almost had to mortgage my schnauzer to pay for it. It certainly didn’t reflect that I was buying a piece of plastic!

Next time, I will not be fooled by the label.

At least it WAS made in Australia… 

Have you been sucked into a purchase by the style or label? 

    

something to ponder about graphic

66 thoughts on “Is Buying Vegan Better?”

    1. Bait and switch describes the marketing well, Barbara. I was sucked in, so there would be many others similarly sucked in. I am all for sustainability as long as it is sustainable. Australia is over-regulated in many ways, so even though regulation of products is a sound thing to do, being a well -informed consumer is the best protection we have.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I try to look at the labelling on most products, but have been fooled many times by “natural” products. We can only try. I wonder how hard it is to buy a second hand leather bag, I’m sure they are snapped up pretty quickly.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ve solved the problem. All of my clothes are wool or cotton, and I have oodles of pockets, so I don’t have to carry a handbag. Also have plenty of cloth bags for groceries.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think that’s what the business is about. To label harmful things as “good”. One popular example is Facebook which says – More Together, which is kind of funny to me because reality is total opposite. Oh and it’s again in controversies. you’re aware?
    Even though, we don’t give a dollar to use Facebook, but it earns every dollar it earns from only common people!….
    By the way, do you love Made in Australia products? 😅😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wholy agree re Facebook. In some ways, marketing companies are the bane of society, if they consciously seek to deceive us with impressive marketing. Our current Prime Minister was a marketer! Hence some of the problems we are facing as a country.
      I like to buy Australian made products because I am an Aussie and I see it as assisting my kids to get jobs in some slim way. The labelling is well regulated (usually) but the quality of Aussie good isn’t always up to scratch. Why did you ask?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You raise a very interesting point Marsha. I wonder how many people are buying vegan leather products because they assume they are better for the planet, rather than out of animal welfare concerns?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I was duped and didn’t look into it enough before I purchased the bag. On the plus side, it is two years old now and I will keep using it until I no longer can do so. By then, I hope they have worked out a way to recycle it. (p.s. I assume Marsha was a typo?)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such an important topic. Thank you for sharing it. Labels and marketing can be very deceiving. I have now become much wiser to food labels that immediately shout out “HEALTHY!” Quite often, that is far from true. Valuable lesson learned.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes Donna. I have also learnt to examine those low fat labels that are really high in sugar. The worst of all are the packets of jelly lollies that shout: 100% fat free! Of course they are as the ingredients are sugar, gelatine and food colouring!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Tough choices sometimes. If everything were 100 percent recyclable, and we had a circular economy, it would be much easier to decide. But we don’t. No advice except to keep thinking about it. And, of course, use that handbag until it falls to pieces. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I will keep using the handbag, Laurie, as the guilt I feel for not being a more conscious consumer will make me continue using it, plus, it functions very well. It is over two years old now and still going strong.
      Totally agree that we should keep discussing and thinking about it. Hopefully, when I next need to buy a bag, it will be from something that is really sustainable like Mylo leather?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. From your computer to your writing pen; the tires on your car to your cosmetics; the fertilizers that make it possible to feed the worlds population; packaging that keeps food fresh much longer; antiseptics and anaesthetics… fossil fuels are a component of, or are used to produce so many things! While I respect that people want to reduce their consumption of plastic products, many people do not look at the life cycle analysis of products. Cotton totes, for example were found to have the worst environmental impact of all types of shopping bags because of the amount of land, water and energy required to grow and manufacture them!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hear you, Margy and thanks for raising this very valid point. Savvy marketing fools many of us. I have been aware of the environmental impacts of the growing of cotton as I used to deal with large cotton farmers here in a work situation. They were quite wealthy but if there once a year crop failed, (which was highly dependent on irrigation), they would receive government assistance to continue production! How crazy. The amount of water they needed to produce the cotton was ridiculous. Tote bags for shopping could easily be made from recycled materials. They just need to be functional and sustainably made, don’t they. Which is why I recycle and make scrap bags from used fabrics.

      Like

    1. I despair too Dorothy, which is why I wanted to highlight this. Low fat cookies and vegan PU leather are lucrative marketing strategies that have detrimental effects for our planet and life. However, in discussing this, I found out about pineapple and mylo leather, which sounds like an exciting step in the right direction. We need to hear more good stories like these which will have turn the tide away from moneygrabbing industries.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I don’t have this problem, because I never buy anything. I have two handbags that are both gifts. One is about twenty years old and the other one is ten years old. They have issues – the first one has a jerry-rigged strap and the second one has a small hole and a broken zipper, but as long as they are usable, they are part of my wardrobe.

    We also have two old day backpacks as well. Both are at least twenty years old and also have issues, but not enough to toss them out and invest in new products. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is a wonderful attitude, Liesbet and you are an inspiration. We don’t have to throw out things that have minor imperfections if they are functional. For many years, I try to see if something can be re-purposed in some way and no doubt if you ever decide to get a new bag, you will find a way to re-use the old one. There is a company here that is recycling old bags, shoes and socks, called Upparell. I like this kind of innovation that saves textiles from landfill. It is a huge environmental problem and Aussies are big offenders. It is shocking to see what my own daughter tosses out – despite me teaching her sustainable practices when she was growing up. It is hard to change that fashion mindset.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, this kind of vegan leather is no doubt PU leather? I hope that some car manufacturers look at Mylo or Pineapple leather alternatives. I would be willing to pay more for a car with this kind of leather seats. Would it tempt you to pay more for your car, Janis?

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  9. Is Buying Vegan Better? On Thursday, October 7, 2021, Something to Ponder About wrote:

    > Forestwood posted: ” I ‘m the type of girl who’s rarely without some kind > of handbag, or tote. I have many. My so-named ‘bag-robe,’ consists of > various D.I.Y. constructions, which have either been recycled, or have > recycled fabric or zips, incorporated into them. Many I’ve h” >

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow, I had no idea vegan leather was so bad. Thank you for sharing. I will stop myself if I am ever tempted to buy this stuff. Definitely not worth it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you really have to examine the label. Some vegan leather, I have just learnt is made from pineapple leaves and mushrooms. It might be hard to obtain but definitely avoid the vegan leather that is made from PU or plastics. It is so bad for the planet.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. They’ve done a good job at marketing vegan leather I have to say. Looking forward to the day when non PU vegan leather are more widespread. I guess the longer you use the bags, the better even if it’s a mistake purchase.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’m with you, recycle leather any day over PU. My grandson, who has just left after a three night stay, had me bemused. He’s vegan as are so many young ones today, and for the supposedly good reasons that it’s better for the planet. He eats canned beans and chick peas by the truckload, preferring the convenience of cans to having to soak the dried product – a bit of a contradiction. I worry a bit about the young ones (and some older folk) who omit total food groups for one reason or another. I wish they’d just learn to moderate. It seems to be either binge, or omit any food group completely for so many people. Just one or two eggs a week, and perhaps a few muscles or oysters would be a great start at sustaining the planet, and his good health. I suspect I won’t have to worry for to long, no doubt the next fad will supersede this one before to long.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The younger generation seem to like these fads. Remember Pete Evans and also the fodmap train. I see fodmap choices in the shops now, but I prefer most things in moderation. Chickpeas in a can are good for odd occasions but not as a staple.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. When it comes to sustainably and keeping thing things out of landfills, 100% leather products may be a good choice. My leather work belt and wallet are 30 plus years old. My leather day backpack, 20 years old. I prefer buying products that last, over something cheap, trendy and would some become hazardous waste.
    But that’s just me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sound, environmental practices in keeping items and buying ones that last. It would help if fashion trends could emphasize longevity in their products, instead of passing fads, given that they tout that they choose the fashion trends years before they actually hit the shelves.
      More products especially whitegoods and technology are appearing that are designed to have a built in obselesence in their design. Businesses highly desire cash flow and encourage regular annual purchases by consumers, instead of a once in twenty year sale. How can we combat this business model other than by using our consumer buying power?

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi – i am curious how the bag looked but you gave us enough to imagine it ☀️

    And plastic – whew – they sure have sneaky clever ways of promoting this products

    I once had a rectangular wallet that was the nicest green with a zipper that was solid and inside (peach color) had two great compartments – it was described as animal free and as a plant-based biodegradable wallet (mind you I prefer real leather and agree with you on recycling and reusing) – anyhow – this nice earthy green wallet had a great feel and was on major sale so I tried it –
    The only down side was it fell apart a year later – that was crazy – started to peel at first and then was wearing thin – so it really was biodegradable- just too soon for my liking

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh dear. Biodegradable is good but it has to be balanced with longevity to some degree, Yvette. The bag is featured in the photo below the tag. It was a shoulder bag with two smaller pouches included. It had zips at either end, a wide shoulder strap and several pockets inside for keys, phone and security.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I saw the tags and will go and look again –

        and my current wallet was a long-time hunt – I wanted it to have a zipper and have a certain thinness – more square – and then wanted back leather (or pleather would be okay)- took about a year to find it – and actually bought a different one – staled on it – and used it for six months (but it was to think) and then finally found the one I wanted – nice tops for a post

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks – and I should have dropped the main link anyhow – just to make sure
            And woo hoo!
            I saw your comments and will reply soon
            – that was wonderful to skim and you have such a smoothness with your connecting Amanda

            Hope you have a nice start to your week

            Liked by 1 person

          1. It think it is plastic-kind of leather but different from what you described –
            And I examined mine today and it feels like a hard plastic leather or a plastic – but I absolutely love it –

            Liked by 1 person

  15. PS
    Not sure if you had a chance to come over and check out your interview post on my blog – but you might want to check a comment from equinoxio – he wrote
    “Nice interview. Thank you. Amanda does have a nice blog. (Are we all following each other?) “

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting that the vegan jacket disintegrated, Kerry. I guess it was biodegradable? It is a balancing act for manufacturers between producing a biodegradable vegan item that has some level of durability. Do you remember what it was made of?

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Thank you for a great post. I bought a few PU leather belts in the past and they were awful. I bought a genuine leather belt from a leatherworker at the local markets. It was superior in every way, including the buckle. It cost thirty dollars. I was so impressed, I went back the following week and bought another. I figure these belts (providing I don’t gain weight) will last a lifetime and are well worth the extra money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sounds like you have chosen a sound economic investment as far as belts go, AJ. I find this again and again and am slowly getting through to my husband – aka the M.o.t.h. He loves a bargain and often thinks those market high quality belts are priced way too high, but they make more sense from an economic and environmental p.o.v, if they last the distance. I have formerly had the PU belts and mostly they are rubbish. So how can they be better for the environment if their longevity is compromised and they require petrochemically produced plastic?
      It is a no brainer.

      Like

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