What is Polyurethane (PU) that makes outerwear described as faux leather or vegan leather?
James&Co regularly calls out that synthetic leather called faux leather or vegan leather outerwear is preferable to buy than real leather outerwear because it is animal-friendly and cruelty-free.
However, it has been a long time coming that synthetic leather is also environmentally-friendly because it is made with plastic and toxic solvents - bonding a plastic coating with a fabric backing.
PU goes through an extensive production process in which the textiles are compacted repeatedly before being submerged in a chemical concentration to solidify and emits high levels of carbon dioxide in the process. Dimethylformamide, just one of the toxic chemicals used in this process, has also been linked to cancer and birth defects.
Polyurethane is also not biodegradable and a contributor to landfill carbon emissions.
You now have the choice to buy leather look outerwear that is not tailored in PU
Thanks to technological advances there are increasingly synthetic leather alternatives to PU which are being crafted thin enough for apparel. James&Co is the leading brand of vegan leather outerwear that has replaced the plastic-based PU with sustainable fabrics. You can read more here about our journey.
Our recent blog on making a sustainable contribution outlines the work of the United Nations in setting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the blueprint for individuals and businesses to help achieve them.
Consumers for whom sustainability is paramount in their fashion buying now can make an environmental contribution by choosing to buy a James&Co cruelty-free and sustainable leather look jacket, rather than a PU faux or vegan leather jacket.
Here's another contribution you can make: divert your PU fabric jacket from landfill by re-using or recycling it
What do you do with a vegan leather jacket that has come to its effective end of life for you? You can always donate it to a charity for re-use by the charity customers.
James&Co does that with excess stock. We donate the products to Good360 in the USA and Australia and that organisation finds needy homes for them.
Like other plastics, many polyurethane products can be recycled in various ways to remove them from landfill stream. Recycling plastic bottles and containers can be facilitated by individuals through segregated garbage bins . Polyurethane fabric recycling, on the other hand, usually happens elsewhere—at sites with expertise in recycling fabrics — and takes many forms, from relatively simple reuse to breaking down the material into its chemical constituents. Common uses for recycled polyurethane include rebonded carpet underlay and other cushioning and packaging materials.
There are more organisations making recyclying of fabrics and clothing more accessible to individuals. By sending the items to the organisations, they will be directed to the experts who will recycle and divert them from landfill. And many brands are working in partnership with the recyclying organisations for the return of returns for recycling. Take a look at Planet Ark and Terracycle.
James&Co is investigating a partnership to recycle PU jackets - not just our brand styles from previous years but all brands. This will make it easier for our customers to send their used PU jackets for recycling.
As a first step and as we set up the recycle initiative, we invite our Australian customers to send your used PU jacket to us and we will send it on for recycling. And you'll get a $15 Discount Code for the purchase of a James&Co sustainable jacket. Read how.
We'll be working together on achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.