Leather is the skin that covers the meat of animals. The term, which has its origin in the Latin corium, also allows to name said skin after it has been tanned and treated for various uses. For example: “Do you like the leather bag I bought myself?” , “Claudia has a beautiful leather chair in the living room of her house”, “These shoes are made of synthetic leather and are very resistant”.
Leather is a layer of tissue that covers the animal. Thanks to its flexibility and resistance, it can be handled and worked in different ways, transforming it into a material with various industrial uses.
The usual thing is that, when separating the skin layer from the animal’s body, the hairs or wool are removed and said layer is subjected to the tanning process. This consists of transforming the skin susceptible to putrefaction into a leather that does not decompose and that, therefore, can be used to make footwear, wallets, bags, jackets, pants, furniture and many other products.
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In almost all parts of the world, more and more people are refusing to eat animal products and opting for a strict vegetarian diet that not only includes no meat of any kind, but also no eggs or milk; They are called vegans and, apart from their diet, they also change any habit in their life that affects to some extent the freedom of the rest of the living species.
Animal leather is used daily in a large number of products, as mentioned above; however, today there are many alternative products that do not require the suffering of a living being, and vegetable leather is one of the most prominent examples. It is a mixture of cotton and rubber that was presented for the first time in 1992.
This alternative to animal leather is especially resistant, flexible and waterproof and shortly after it began to be marketed, many textile factories adopted it for their products, without this negatively affecting its prestige. The process of creating vegetable leather is also respectful of the forest, since it does not require the extraction of sap from the trees.
The UN declared the manufacture of vegetable leather the “best ecological practice”, as it respects the environment and also provides more work for latex collectors, thus creating a production cycle that benefits us all and does not contribute to torture.
To obtain the latex, which looks like milk that is whitish in color and quite thick, rubber tappers make incisions in the bark of trees of the species hevea brasilensis (which in Brazil is mainly known as seringa ). They then collect it in a metal container and process it before it becomes too hard.
The latex process consists of placing it on pure cotton plates and then drying it with smoke, to later place said plates inside a special stove at an average temperature of 100 degrees Celsius for a few hours. Finally, it is bathed in a sulfur solution to finish giving it the resistance that the market expects to find in vegetable leather.
The notion of leather, on the other hand, has various meanings in colloquial language, depending on the geographical region. In Argentina, the expression “being in leather” refers to the man who is shown bare- chested (without a shirt): “Aren’t you cold in leather?” , “Entrance in leather and barefoot is prohibited”.
In the Dominican Republic, leather is synonymous with a prostitute : “You look like a leather”, “Sometimes I think you are a leather”.
Another use of the term in different regions is associated with courage (or lack of it): “I’m sure you won’t have the guts to enter the abandoned house at night”.