|Going Green: But What About Leather?|
|Thursday, 24 January 2013 00:00 | Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry|
You began the journey to a waste-free Shangri-La as a green consumer. Abandoning your socially programmed obsession with convenience and disposability, you consciously purchased the greener antiperspirant, greener lawn spray and greener automobile. You realized that you had a vital role in political environmentalism, for you possessed a precious thing: a vote that was religiously and obsessively tallied—the dollar. You understood that when you changed your vote, from say disposable plastic cutlery to biodegradable vegetable cutlery, you really were changing the political arena—and relatively fast.
But greener consumerism wasn't enough for you. You then claimed the identity of the non-consumer, prizing reused things, swapped, gifted and shared items above all others. Your carbon footprint went honorably neutral as you reduced your purchases. And as you continued down that path, perhaps you found, like me, that food doesn't have to come in packaging—and that if a cartoon character is used to sell it, it's likely not a food at all.
With these lifestyle changes, you've seen a substantial decrease in the garbage you generate. Shangri-La is becoming more real and your lifestyle more satisfying with every product not purchased.
Am I right?
I remember growing up in a farm town, thinking thoughts no peer seemed to understand. It was important to me, even in my lowly teens, to know that I was supporting the locally owned record store rather than the big-city chain nearby. I had been vegetarian for eight years by that time, so ethical (or as I like to say, communal) considerations affected my purchases, too. I was already dancing professionally then, and hey, a girl sometimes needs dance shoes. Oh, the years of internal debate surrounding the need for new leather dance shoes!
No matter how waste-free or compassionate your ideals are, any member of Western society eventually has need of a product they do not agree it’s ethical to purchase. I thought I had answered this quandary when I went leather-free for many formative years. And although it felt great to dress without the Death karma (I'll say it!), eventually I noticed that everything with which I was replacing my leather belts, boots and wallets was made of petro-plastic and man-made materials—entirely non-renewable, non-reusable, non-degradable and manufactured in overseas sweat-shops. Yes, my new accessories were vegan, but were they green or even cruelty-free?
Several years later, having long since graduated as valedictorian of my high-school class, my anguish over this topic has yet to be remedied. Here I am now, a full-grown, self-directed, free, adult woman—and still tormented.
I am, however, enthusiastic to share with you something that has renewed my faith in our common destination: Cherry Bombin' Wear, a woman-owned small business in Arizona that recovers used inner tubes from bicycle tires for sewing into rockin' ID cases, wallets, business-card holders, wrist cuffs and belts. No animals are harmed in their manufacture, the recovered material actually lasts longer than leather, and every item keeps another inner tube out of our landfills. You can see why that would give a long-term vegan and environmental enthusiast some satisfaction. That’s just a little tip from me to you.
Certainly our journey toward a waste-free lifestyle is made with a combination of green consumerism, non-consumerism and lastly, a flat-out refusal to consume. I wish for you, in the beginning, all the coolest thrift-store belts you could possibly want. And eventually, I hope the question bubbles up from somewhere down deep—why do you want any belt at all? Maybe we're closer than we think to having everything we want.
Even so—let me know if you ever do come across a pair of hemp-upper tap shoes. Cool?
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