grounded people has partnered with a unique manufacturer and pride ourselves on the fact we pay fair wages in safe working conditions to our small team of artisans in comparison to the rest of the fashion industry. Our manufacturing partners are the only 100% fully vegan factory in the world. Based in the beautiful and hardworking country of Brazil.
Water savings when you buy grounded people vegan shoes:
PART ONE: Raising cattle water use
The water footprint of raising cattle for leather is 17,100L of water per kg of leather.
One cow produces 6.1kg of leather
17,100L x 6.1kg per hide = 104,310L per hide
An average cow hide is 55sq ft (5.1sq m)
104,310L per hide / 55 sq ft = 1,897.5L of water per sq foot of leather
An average pair of shoes requires 3 to 5 sq ft of leather (midpoint of 4 sq ft), 5 to 8 sq ft (midpoint of 6.5 sq ft) for boots
Pair of shoes: 4 sq ft * 1897.5L = 7,590L
The average American shower uses 15.8 gallons (59.8 litres) and lasts for 7.8 minutes at an average flow rate of 2.1 gallons per minute (gpm) (7.9 lpm).
The recommended shower length is about five minutes.
Pair of shoes: 7,590L/ 38.3L = ~198 showers
Pair of shoes = 198 showers = a recommended 5 minute shower once a day for more than six months (198 / 30.4 days = 6.5 months)
PART TWO: Tanning and finishing water use
‘The range of the specific water intake (SWI) for full tanning was found to be 170-550 L/hide.
Midpoint of range = (170 + 550) / 2 = 360L
1 leather hide = 104,310L (cattle raising) + 360L (tanning) = 104,670L
(4sq ft / 55sq ft) * 104,670L= 7,612.36L = 1 pair of shoes
Pair of shoes: 7,612.36L / 38.3L = 198.7 showers (almost 199 showers)
199 / 30.4 = 6.55 months of showering for a pair of shoes
323 / 30.4 = 10.63 months of showering for a pair of boots
Based on health recommendations advise drinking 2L of water per day
Pair of shoes:
7,612.36L / 2 = 3,806.18 days
/ 365 = 10.4 years
= Pair of shoes uses enough water for a person to drink for almost 10 and a half years
Carbon cost savings when buying vegan goods vs leather goods:
The leather industry’s toll on climate and biodiversity are far worse than commonly thought. Using the leather industry’s own data we've calculated how much greenhouse gas is tied to your leather bag, and it’s not looking good.
Leather is not a by-product
Leather is not a recycling charity any more than plastics are recycled from the waste of crude oil refineries.
For those who believe leather to be a mere by-product of the meat and dairy industries, and so who discount any environmental impact of leather unrelated to leather processing and tanning, let’s address that.
A by-product becomes a co-product when this secondary good – skins, from industries focused on flesh or milk – becomes desirable and profitable. Leather is a profit-driven industry set to reach a staggering $629.95 billion market size worth by 2025. It must be viewed as a co-product.
The Leather Panel has shared a study that begins counting emissions after the slaughterhouse section of the leather supply chain. Included emissions here are energy use in tanneries, chemical outputs and their emissions, transportation, and so on.
In this case, CO2e emissions (emissions of various gasses translated to the common unit of carbon) for leather equal 17.0kg of CO2e per square meter of leather produced. In comparison, artificial leather’s total supply chain has an impact of 15.8kg of CO2e per square meter.
As you can see, even allowing the leather industry’s unreasonable assumption of no impact from animal farming, faux leather’s entire life cycle produces fewer emissions.
The carbon cost of leather
So how many kilograms of CO2e are in our leather jackets, bags, and shoes?
After asking creators of these products how much leather is required for them, we have all the numbers we need to work this out.
By multiplying the CO2e/m2 emissions of both faux and cow skin leather respectively, with the material requirements for each product, we see exactly how our fashion choices contribute to the climate crisis.
If you’re someone who has heard that vegan leather is worse for the environment, or if you’re interested in the ongoing safety of the ecological world, these calculations may be worth your consideration when next designing or buying these goods.
Would you rather the skins were just tossed into landfill?’ This is a common question that both the leather industry and sustainable fashion community often pose.
Based on the data, our answer is yes, and here’s why: throwing a cowhide in the garbage has a smaller climate impact than turning it into leather.
Yes, the carbon that is biologically stored in untanned cowhides if sent to landfill would produce some methane emissions as they rotted, but it’s nowhere near as much C02e created when we chemically transform those skins into leather (which will eventually be discarded or incinerated anyway).
Data for landfill equations
Is the impact of sending hides to landfill worse or better than the impact of using hides to turn them into leather?
Total emissions from sending unprocessed hides to landfill (in kg of CO2e / m2 of hide)
= Total emissions from turning hides into leather – Emissions from leather processing + Emissions in landfill
= 110 – 17 + 1.152
= 94.152 kg of CO2e / m2 of unprocessed hide in landfill
Total emissions from turning hides into leather = 110kg of CO2e / m2
Difference in emissions (i.e., leather – landfill)
= Total emissions from turning hides into leather – Total emissions from sending unprocessed hides to landfill
= 110 – 94.152
= 15.848 kg of CO2e / m2
Additional sources and calculations:
Emissions from leather processing = 17kg of CO2e / m2
Emissions in landfill
= CO2 emissions per square metre of hide x methane-carbon mass ratio
=CO2 per tonne of hide / Hides per tonne X Hides per square meter X Methane-carbon mass ratio
= 1.152 kg of CO2e / m2
CO2 per tonne of hide in landfill
624kg of CO2 is emitted per tonne 1000 kg of putrefied hides
Hides per tonne
An average cow hide weighs 6.1kg (Source: UNESCO).
1000 / 6.1 = 163.93 hides per tonne.
Hides per square metre
An average cow hide is 47.5 square feet or 4.41 square metres
= 1 hide per 4.41 square metres
Methane-carbon mass ratio
In order to turn data which refers only to carbon into data which is aligned with the rest of our data — measured in CO2 equivalent emissions — we need to account for how carbon would turn into methane in the process of breaking down in landfill (Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). Methane and carbon have different atomic masses, 16 and 12 respectively (Source: National Library of Medicine: Methane; Carbon).