Is Alligator Leather Vegan + Sustainable?

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 08/03/22 •  7 min read
is allgator leather vegan and sustainable

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Durability: pros alligator leather is strong, durable

Versatility: pros alligator leather is used for clothing, handbags, footwear, furniture, boots, shoes, saddles and other products

Affordability: alligator leather is uncommon

Alligator leather is…

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ENVIRONMENT

Fiber source: natural, alligator leather is a natural fiber, derived from the hide of alligators

Biodegradable: yes, alligator leather is biodegradable, although natural leather is biodegradable, it can take 25-50 years to decompose due to the tanning materials used

Destruction: high, alligator leather production is relatively destructive, there is a significantly negative impact regarding the tanning process, involving polluted water, tanneries produce a huge amount of solid waste including the flesh and organic body parts of the animal, disposal leading to disease and unsanitary waste, effecting groundwater systems and agricultural activities

Alligator leather is…

ANIMALS

Kills: alligators, shot or bludgeoned with hammers, workers may use a mallet and chisel to sever crocodiles’ spinal cords which paralyzes them

Harms: alligators, raised in crowded tanks or pools of stinking water, farmed crocodiles often “develop abnormalities and deformities because they can’t walk or swim” in the crowded enclosures

Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and ecosystems

Alligator leather is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always be accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Alligator leather…

What are alligator leather material uses?

Alligator leather uses include making boots, shoes and handbags.

alligator leather is durable.

durable, long lasting fabrics, materials and textiles

Is alligator leather durable or delicate? Alligator leather is durable and long lasting when cared for properly.

For every 5 garments produced, the equivalent of 3 end up in a landfill or incinerated each year!

One reason for such wastefulness society’s ever growing desire to acquire. Fast fashion (creating low-priced items at high volumes) is problematic for a number of reasons and promotes the attitude that clothing is nearly disposable.

But another component of such a quick turnaround on clothing is because it’s just not lasting long enough. Snags, stains, warping and shrinkage render items unusable and unacceptable for the  donation pile. Avoid such problems by buying better quality, more durable, long lasting materials. Timeless wardrobe favorites that last for years and years are more sustainable and reduce the need for replacements. 

Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck full of textiles burns or goes to landfills…

Keep minimalism in mind and buy less, borrow and buy items second hand. Thrift shops offer many inexpensive, unique finds that have already proven to stand the test of time!

alligator leather is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Is alligator leather eco friendly and sustainable? No, alligator leather is unsustainable.

There is a significantly negative impact regarding the tanning process involving polluted water. Tanneries produce a huge amount of solid waste including the flesh and organic body parts of the animal, disposal leading to disease and unsanitary waste, effecting groundwater systems and agricultural activities.

Animal materials are a natural fiber and biodegradable unless heavily treated with chemicals. However, they are not at all eco-friendly or sustainable due to the overwhelming strain on natural resources; the water needed, food needed and land usage that must happen for such abundant amounts of animals to live.

Animal agriculture is not good for the environment, human health and of course, the animals themselves. Thus, animal derived, non-vegan materials are not only cruel and inhumane but environmentally unsustainable. 

That’s not to say that all vegan materials are sustainable. There are many vegan yet unsustainable fabrics, materials and textiles. Most of us don’t realize that washing one synthetic garment releases about 2,000 plastic microfibers which then enter the ocean and food chain…or that 30% of rayon and viscose used in fashion comes from endangered and ancient forests. So because a fabric is vegan it does not necessarily mean that it is sustainable, eco-friendly and so on. 

alligator leather is not vegan.

Is alligator leather vegan? No, alligator leather is not vegan. Alligators must be killed in order to produce alligator leather.

Cows, sheep, alpacas, goats, ducks and foxes are animals commonly subject to exploitation for their skins, hair or feathers. In fact, BILLIONS of them die every single year simply in the name of fashion. 

Before buying a pair of shoes, a sweater, a purse, check the materials. Common and unfortunately popular animal-derived materials include:

These materials often come from places like India and China where there can be NO animal welfare laws or enforcement. But if the item does come from a more developed area of the world, such as the United States or Europe, that animal was likely a victim of factory farming. In such overcrowded farms there is confinement, disease and animals sometimes live their entire lives indoors, never seeing the light of day.

Material from animals may involve slaughtering like leather and fur production, for instance. In regards to wool or feathers, animals struggle while workers hold them down and beat them in order to shear their coat or rip feathers from skin. This leaves them bloody and wounded in pain. 

Dressing and decorating vegan is easier than ever with this: Vegan Fabrics, Materials and Textiles List

alligator leather is a product that may or may not have labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is alligator leather a material that has laborer issues? At this time, there are no known specific reports of worker mistreatment regarding alligator farming but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Alligator leather may or may not have labor issues.

Did you know that the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? Whether agriculture involves crops or animals, the labor behind each and every product made from cotton, leather, wool, etc. cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers.

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives simply by being mindful to buy items that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Exotic Skins: The Animals
Is Leather Biodegradable? (A Must Know!)
Crocodiles Cut Open, Skinned in Vietnam for Leather Bags
Undercover on an Alligator Farm: One Investigator’s Story
Exotic Skins: The Animals | PETA

Adriane Marie

Grocery Guru, Material Maven, Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful! Use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.

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