Leather has been around for as long as we can look back, as clothing, a material for transport, a covering for our cave entrances, protection against the cold, vessels for drinking, containers and much more. Perhaps it was the desire not to waste any of the valuable food that was so hard to come by that first awakened the desire in people to preserve and use skins.
Preserving and tanning hides is one of humanity’s oldest skills. When the mummy of the roughly 5,300 year-old “Ötzi” was found in the Ötztal Alps, he was dressed in clothes made from fur and leather, a fur hat and leather shoes. The Ancient Egyptians knew about tanning with plant materials, which is shown by decorations on a sarcophagus that depict scenes with tanners. Leather (alum-tanned) in good condition was also found in Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Leather is actually still just a by-product today. The need for food always comes first. When meat is needed, it automatically creates animal hides. To not use them and let them rot would be wasteful. Leather is, so to speak, a re-used by-product of the meat industry.
But, of course, leather is not just leather! How it is made always makes a difference. If hides are handled with care and if leather is tanned and processed in a way that protects people and the environment, it can be made into wonderful, high-quality products that sustainably brighten up and holistically enrich peoples’ lives over a very long time, in harmony with nature’s ways.