Is Corn Leather Vegan and Sustainable?

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 01/03/23 •  9 min read

Is corn leather vegan? Is corn leather sustainable? And is corn leather ethical? Here are corn leather pros and cons: all the info on corn leather fabric, materials and textiles that every ethical consumer wants to know…

is corn leather vegan and sustainable

Clothes are so cheap and trendy these days we buy them even when we don’t ‘need’ them. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure materials accommodate your needs but don’t hurt the planet, animals or others. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on whether corn leather is vegan and sustainable.

You are going to learn all about corn leather’s impact on animals and the planet. This will include corn leather benefits for you regarding the durability, versatility and accessibility of the material. You’ll find out if corn leather is sustainable and if corn leather is vegan…or maybe impacts animals in other ways!

After learning if corn leather is good or bad you’ll be able to make the best choices you can the next time you shop.

This post is all about asking is corn leather vegan and is corn leather sustainable…something every ethical shopper must know.

Is Corn Leather Vegan And Sustainable?


Durability: corn leather is resistant, durable, tougher than animal hide

Versatility: corn leather is smooth and has a nice feel just like traditional leather, similar to leather in terms of touch and elasticity, can make items in any way traditional leather can

Affordability: unknown

Corn leather is…

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Fiber source: semi-natural, corn leather is a natural fiber combined with polyurethane (PU), corn leather is composed of 50% corn waste and polyurethane, ratios may vary from 47% to 82% corn pulp depending on brand

Biodegradable: yes, corn leather is biodegradable, up to 63 percent biodegradable

Destruction: moderate, corn depletes nitrogen and other important nutrients from the soil, more than a third of U.S. corn is used for animal feed, another third grown for ethanol for cars, 92% of corn crops grown in the US in 2016 was genetically modified (GMO), crops are modified to increase yield and improve resistance to insects, disease or chemicals used to kill pests, corn production is associated with monocropping, which causes the soil structure and quality to be so poor that farmers must use chemical fertilizers to encourage plant growth,


pesticides and fertilizers contaminate ground water and become airborne, creating pollution, monocropping is not an issue if the product is organic, however corn leather uses 50 percent corn waste leftover from the food industry, companies that produce produces using corn leather such as Veja avoid using any hazardous chemicals, polyurethane (PU) doesn’t contain any chemicals that interfere with endocrine and hormone systems or contribute to pH change in soil or water, PU uses no solvents and doesn’t produce harmful toxins

Corn leather is…


Kills: none, corn production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, corn production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and ecosystems, 92% of corn crops grown in the US in 2016 was genetically modified (GMO), crops are modified to resist chemicals used to kill pests, pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Corn leather is…


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 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

Corn leather…

What are corn leather uses?

Corn leather uses include making shoes, purses and as an overall cowhide leather alternative.

Another name for corn leather is corn waste leather or CWL.

Is corn leather durable or delicate?

Is corn leather durable or delicate?

Corn 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!

Is corn leather eco friendly and sustainable?

Is corn leather eco friendly and sustainable?

Yes, corn leather is moderately sustainable when organic.

Materials from animals are natural fibers 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.

With the high number of animals unnaturally bred onto the planet in the name of human utilization, specifically ruminants (cows, sheep, goats, deer, camels, etc.), they emit high volumes of carbon emissions and contaminate air, soil and water with their waste (excrement). This is also toxic to ecosystems and wildlife. 

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. 

Wow! …So it’s time to start using sustainable fabrics, materials and textiles.

Vegan and sustainable fashion near you is easier than ever with this: Vegan Clothing Brands Per Country List

Is corn leather vegan?

Is corn leather vegan?

Yes, corn leather is vegan. Be sure to buy organic corn leather to prevent harm to ecosystems and wildlife.

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

Does corn leather have human rights issues?

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

At this time, there are no known specific reports of worker mistreatment regarding corn farming but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Corn 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.

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, sweatshops and child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence. Unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

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. 

So, is corn leather vegan and sustainable? Yes, corn leather is vegan and moderately sustainable.

This post was all about answering if corn leather is vegan and sustainable.


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Adriane Marie

Hi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.

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