Table with large scrap of leather on top of a cutting board with many tools

Leather Creative Reuse

When I see a leather couch in the trash, I imagine taking all the leather off and reusing it into lots of projects. That was the inspiration for today’s episode so maybe next time, I will actually go for it.

As you likely know, leather has a lot of environmental impacts. Cows product a lot of carbon emissions, waste and use a lot of water. The chemicals used to tan the leather are noxious. The tanned leather cannot bio-degrade. So creative reuse of leather is the way to go!

There are also inventors and entrepreneurs producing vegan leather made from inner tubes, fire hoses and even growing it from cacti or mushrooms!

You can listen to my podcast episode on the creative reuse of leather from September 2020 in this YouTube video:

Reusing Leather Scraps

Since leather is made from animal skin, it has imperfections that become leather scraps. Also, when people sew items from leather using a pattern, the extra bits become scraps.

Elvis and Kresse is a company in the United Kingdom that makes bags and rugs from recycled materials, including leather scraps. The company started when the founders learned that all the damaged, decommissioned fire houses in London were going to landfill. They were difficult to recycle because they were made from a composite material, meaning they were not all rubber. They wanted to reuse this material because it had been involved in so many heroic deeds.

Reusing Leather Belts

Lots of artists on Etsy make bracelets from recycled leather belts.

Danny Seo teaches how to make bottle labels from recycled belts:

Sadie Seasongoods has her own version of bottle labels

Reusing Leather Gloves

Lots of artists paint leather gloves.

Bunnie Reiss takes it to the next level with her Cosmic Animal Gloves:

Reusing Cowboy Boots

People cut the soles off of cowboy boots and sew them back-to-back to make purses, or use a single boot to make a wine tote.

Reusing Leather Labels on Denim Jeans

Made or Remade sews thimbles from the leather labels on jeans:

Other artists sew rugs from hundreds of leather labels:

Reusing Leather Jackets and Pants / Trousers

Hildur2John makes beautiful throw pillow, tassels and ornaments from recycled leather and suede jackets:

Aly Ashton makes bags from sentimental leather clothing, including in some cases, motorcycle racing suits that saved a rider’s life.

Leather Alternatives or Vegan Leather

Some artists use recycled inner tubes as a replacement for leather – check out episode 67 about this.

Desserto is a leather alternative made from cactus.

Other entrepreneurs are working on leather alternatives made from mycelium or fungus, such as Bolt Threads in California and Ecovative Design in New York.

Craft Projects from Salvaged Leather

Luggage Tags

Leather Plant Holder

Kiragami Leather Plant Holder

Plant Holder Pattern

Leather Mini-book Pendant by Sadie Seasongoods

DIY Leather Journal

Sharon Raymond from Simple Shoemaking

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