Conscious Leather: Is it Possible?
Wow wow wow. If you could put female empowerment, biodiversity, ethical manufacturing, animal welfare, humanitarian rights, positive economic impact, and environmental thoughtfulness all into one bag, what would it look like?
It would look like the MEG bag from Central Grazing Company (CGC).
Since 2015, Jacqueline has been raising lamb on her regenerative farm in Kansas, where her flocks roam free, peacefully, and live a natural life. It was only natural that the next step in her holistic farming process was to eliminate waste by making a small line of responsibly made heirloom leather goods.
What Is Regenerative Farming?
I had never heard of regenerative farming before being introduced to CGC, and with the sustainable community constantly divided about whether “responsible leather” is an oxymoron, understanding regenerative farming seemed like a good way to start to educate myself on the great debate.
If you didn’t know, meat consumption plays a huge role in messing up the planet; “the … greenhouse gas cost of worldwide meat production emits more atmospheric greenhouse gases than do all forms of transportation or industrial processes.” – Scientific American
I’m not going to pretend I knew that either.
So – CGC, as a responsible member of the meat and leather industry, contributes to balancing the carbon cycle with regenerative farming. The practices of regenerative farming themselves are quite scientific and advanced, but quite simply they include:
- managing grazing practices of flocks to stimulate improved plant growth, increasing soil fertility and biodiversity, which means happier, healthier animals.
- planting crops in a way that fosters biodiversity and the growth of other nutrient-rich and benefiting species (like bees!).
- increasing soil fertility through natural and regenerative means vs. chemical
There are lots of other regenerative practices which, if you’re interested, you can read more about on CGC’s website. The important thing to remember is that the benefits of regenerative farming are pretty awesome – enriching soils, increasing biodiversity, reversing the effects of global climate change by capturing atmospheric carbon through photosynthesis.
Great, so mother nature is happy, but what about everyone else?
CGC’s leather is one of the first to be Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) by A Greener World, because of their use of AWA-approved farms – a commitment to raising animals in a healthy, natural, humane way. There is 100% traceability when you buy leather from CGC, unlike other brands, where supply chains can be complex and questionable.
CGC also employs local farmers who use regenerative practices, and pay them higher than industry standard, building their local economy. They use a gentler vegetable tanning process, which allows the imperfections of the leather to be celebrated. In my opinion, this shows an homage, gratitude and deep respect for the animal. Leather is a slow process, and I don’t take it’s substance lightly. I think this type of finish helps me remember that.
All bags are stitched and produced at a small, family owned local factory in the midwest.
So – is it responsible? Conscious? I think yes. I hope this is the direction the leather industry takes – slow, thoughtful, caring. But we as consumers need to be that way too.
Ok – for my handbag lovers: it’s gorgeous. I’ve had the privilege of being gifted one (in exchange for my honest opinion in this post and on Youtube) and I can honestly say I am enjoying using it.
I was initially surprised at how light it is – I’m used to heavy leather bags – and i loved the brass feet at the bottom to protect it. Organic cotton lines the inside, and I love that it’s not huge; allowing me to head to client meetings and chic events with camera, notebook and wallet stylishly tucked away and not feeling like a sherpa.
The colour; i chose this beautiful cognac/chestnut which is my go-to for purses – it’s rich, and when the light wax coating fades (instead of the plastic coating most large leather manufacturers use), I know this will have a beautiful patina. This is truly an heirloom bag – its durability and classic style can be passed down and loved for years to come.
CGC is still a new company, and their Kickstarter campaign is gaining steam – they are currently at $24,000 of their $27,000 goal! Contributions range between $5 and $585 and I LOVE the fact that every contribution goes to a female-led and run business that fuses the beauty of nature with artistic craftsmanship. Click HERE to contribute.
A huge thank you to Jacqueline for including me in your mission to disrupt the leather industry and for allowing me to share the incredible work that you do.
Thanks for reading, xo