What is Eco leather (What You Need To Know)

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: October 23, 2021
  • Time to read: 11 min.

Some are products from recycling sofas, vehicle seats, old jackets, or other leather waste products. 

Eco-leather can also contain leather products recovered from the byproduct industry like fishing or meat industry.

Is Eco Leather Genuine Leather?

While eco-leather has no particular composition, it’s ideal for all purposes and intents. 

So, yes, eco-leather is 100% genuine leather or hide.

The term eco-leather relies on its production process that uses chemicals and products that are environmentally friendly. But the final product is a genuine leather product.

This type of leather comes from cowhide and any other skin hides. 

It’s seasoned, tanned, and dyed using natural, vegetable, and organic materials rather than toxic chemicals.

Eco-leather also boasts a clean, consistent, yet attractive appearance. It’s robust, durable, and feels like natural leather.

All the manufacturing practices aim to reduce negative environmental impacts. 

This includes all the processes ranging from seasoning to tanning, dyeing, to disposal.

Besides, the manufacturing processes are quite lengthy. This gives a leather unique appearance and durability. It’s easy to tell that humans love leather. Look at how the material is luxurious, stylish, durable, just to mention but a few. 

But with a growing need for sustainable living, we need to shed light on our fashion and manufacturing choices for the sake of our planet.

That said, eco leather will make a difference. Eco leather is any leather made from plant-based material rather than animal-based material. 

In this post, I’ll take you through fantastic discoveries I made about eco-leather.   

What is Eco leather

What Is Eco Leather?

Eco-leather is also known as eco-friendly leather. It is a type of leather made from chemicals and processes that are incredibly safe for the environment.

The processes purely use environmentally friendly materials. As a result, the final leather is much safer for the wearer or user for a long time.

Eco-leather also refers to any recycled leather products or leather formed in an eco-friendly manner. 

It also involves tanned leather formed by eco-friendly processes. However, the tanning process should comply with specific standards.

Such certifications and standards ensure that a tanner follows eco-friendly processes. 

Therefore, eco-friendly leather is just genuine leather obtained through environmentally friendly processes.

Eco-friendly leather exists to reduce the significantly:

  • quantity of leather wastage
  • usage of toxic chemicals in manufacturing processes
  • generation of waste products and pollutants
  • application of finishes on products

This type of leather ensures that we use products that are safe for us and the environment. It calls for a few tweaks in the manufacturing process.

This makes it safer for tannery workers and everyone working with or using leather products.

What Is Eco Leather Made Of?

Eco-leather doesn’t have any specific composition. It is undoubtedly 100% leather. Therefore, it’s suitable for all purposes.

This type of leather comprises various kinds of materials that feel and look like natural leather. 

The purest form of this leather comes mostly from PVC (Polyvinyl chloride).

PVC is also known as vegan leather. It often originates from fabric leather backing, a layer of foam, skin, and a plastic surface coating. 

The vegan leather alternative materials include:

  • Pineapple leaves
  • Apple
  • Mushroom
  • Cork
  • Upcycled rubber
  • Lab-grown fibers
  • Grape leather

It can also have natural fibers like flax or a mix of cotton with corn, palm, and soya beans. Eco-leather may feature other kinds of plant oils sealed together in layers. 

The resulting material resembles and feels like it originated from a real animal.

Alternatively, eco-friendly leather may comprise cowhide obtained from organically reared cattle. 

It may also consist of another type of artificial material.

Plus, the leather looks natural leather as it comes from real leather materials.

Its design for a  safe environment in nature and manufacturing processes makes it genuine leather.

Is All Leather Eco Friendly?

Yes, all eco-leather is environmentally friendly. It has materials obtained from purely natural sources. Besides, it comes from replenishable or recyclable products at a relatively faster rate than the conventional type.

The leather material also comes from the byproduct industry like fishing or meat.

Moreover, the production processes involved are free from toxic chemicals. 

That’s unlike the production of regular leather, which consists of applying harmful substances in leather tanning.

Specific standards tend to limit the usage of chemicals in the production of eco-leather. 

Other standards allow for the use of natural materials in producing eco-leather. 

Both measures aim to help reduce negative impacts on the environment.

The production of eco-leather doesn’t result in excess wastes that could otherwise end up in a dumpsite. 

That’s because the processes also reuse and recycle old leather products like sofas, car seats, and many more.

Similarly, vegan leather made from plants and vegetable leaves is biodegradable. 

Therefore, they cannot impact the environment negatively. In short, eco-leather is very eco-friendly.

A disposed eco-leather may not be as biodegradable as many people think. 

The tanning process, be it done naturally or not, preserves the skins/hides for thousands of years.

For it to be 100% eco-friendly, this type of leather must not contain some restricted chemicals such as:

  • Chrome VI
  • Azo dyes
  • PCP
  • Formaldehyde, etc.

How Long Does Eco Leather Last?

Eco-leather has impressive durability. It can last for a very long time, just like real leather. With proper care and maintenance, eco-leather can last for 10 to 20 years.

This type of leather consists of natural leather skin/hide, fabric materials, and recycled leather materials. 

It may also come from recovered products from the byproduct industry, including vegan leather materials.

These leather sources often undergo eco-friendly tanning processes and techniques. 

This gives a leather that is soft, high-quality, and incredibly durable.

Eco-leather is unlikely to stain, crack, peel off, or fade due to UV light. 

Therefore, you can expect to use your eco-leather product for as many years as possible. All you need is to clean and maintain it aptly.

What Are The Common Types Of Eco Leather?

The materials forming eco-leather defines its type. Since there is a wide range of materials used to make this type of leather, we can expect to have several eco-leathers.

Some of the common types of eco-leather include the following:

  • Recycled eco-leather
  • Byproduct eco-leather
  • Natural eco-leather
  • Vegan eco-leather
  • Tanned Eco Leather

Recycled Eco Leather

A recycled eco-leather refers to leather that has already been used. 

This includes leather from an old leather sofa, car seats, jackets, and other torn out leather products.

Such sources provide leather that undergoes eco-friendly production processes. So the final, new and attractive leather becomes of use again.

With this type of eco-leather, the quantity of waste getting into the environment reduces significantly. 

That’s because the leather materials that would otherwise get disposed of are incredible leather sources for recycling.

Therefore, we say it is eco-friendly!

In most cases, people tend to prefer this type of eco-leather as bonded leather. 

The reason is that it comes as a result of combining and bonding leather from old leather products.

Some people consider recycled leather to be of low quality. There are times when the claim is true. 

But this leather will often retain the integrity of its materials. Thus, won’t tear into pieces while you use it.

Byproduct Leather

This leather comes as a result of combining recovered byproducts from the fishing or meat/hunting industry. 

Here, nothing goes to waste. Such leather must come from organically raised cattle or viable fishing practices.

Nearly every part of an animal goes to practical use. 

Besides, the final leather will have high quality, just like regular leather. Plus, it’ll be safe for the environment, business processes, humans, and animals.

The sustainable nature of this type of eco-leather is what most environmentally conscious individuals prefer.

Natural Eco Leather

If leather uses innately natural materials, then we refer to it as a natural eco-leather. 

It’s incredibly replenishable through natural processes.

The replenishing process occurs faster than the rate at which people use it. 

That said, it’s way safer for the planet and its biodiversity.

In this line of thinking, it could be using wood and natural leather. These leather sources are renewable. 

However, they’ve higher CO2 concentration and ethical costs than plant-based sources.

Vegan Leather

Sometimes, eco-leather is much like another version of faux leather. 

The materials used don’t come from animals.

Most vegan leather originates from synthetic leather materials like PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and PU (polyurethane). 

These are plastic-based materials that can harm the environment.

Be that as it may, vegan eco-leather made from natural materials like cork is exceptionally eco-friendly. 

It may also come from fruits, stems, and leaves of certain plants. Kelp and pineapple leaves can serve as best examples.

Tanned Eco Leather

This is a leather formed using eco-friendly tanning techniques and processes. 

The process doesn’t apply any toxic chemicals.

The leather may come from tanning a tree bark extract (vegetable tanning). So, it’s biodegradable hence safe for the environment.

A chrome tanned leather will be eco-friendly only if it doesn’t have any restricted chemicals.

How Does Eco Leather Differ From Regular Leather?

Quality and Durability

Regular leather, mostly top or full grain are of high quality. Besides, they can last for many years under proper care. 

Eco-leather is the newest option around. So there’s inadequate data to prove its durability.


Eco-leather is thin and lighter than regular leather. Because of these two reasons, it’s ideal for crafting fashionable leather items such as garments.

Regular leather, on the other hand, is bulkier, and this explains its remarkable longevity. 

However, the lightweight and thinness of eco-leather make it relatively less durable.

Effect on the Environment

Eco-leather is the environment’s best friend. It comes from natural materials such as fruits, leaves and more. 

These are perfect biodegradable leather materials. Plus, the production processes are earth-friendly.

Regular leather uses harmful chemicals during the production/tanning processes. As a result, it may impact the environment negatively.


Most eco-friendly leathers are incredibly cheaper and sustainable than regular leather. 

This is because the process of producing it is very affordable. As for regular leather, the process is quite tricky and expensive.

Is Eco Leather Better Than Real Leather?

When it comes to the safety of the environment, eco-leather is better than real leather.

 Eco-leather uses materials that come from natural and chemical-free processes and products.

Plus, most of the materials used are biodegradable.

In terms of durability and quality, real leather is better than eco leather. 

The latter is incredibly durable, thanks to its intensive tanning processes. Eco-leather, on the other hand, is lightweight – hence less durable.

As for costs, eco-leather beats real leather. It’s a suitable choice for users running on fixed budgets. 

The production process is cheap.

With real leather, the process of raising, slaughtering, and tanning the skins/hides is pretty tricky.

Is Eco Leather More Expensive?

No. In most cases, eco-leather is very affordable. The process of producing it is cheaper. 

That’s because the leather doesn’t come from animal skins.

Instead, it originates from naturally available materials like fruits, tree bark, leaves, and other synthetic fibers.

How Do You Clean Eco Leather?

Eco-leather comes with a lower price tag. If you want your eco-leather to last, you need to clean it properly. 

So, how do you clean eco-leather? To start off, check out for any stains. Use a suitable detergent and hot warm water to wash it by hand or machine.

Then turn over your eco-leather and wash the inner parts. After that, rinse it with cool water. Air-dry the leather and condition it with oil. Finally, treat the leather for wrinkles.


1. Check for stains

If your eco-leather has stains, use a damp microfiber cloth to remove them. 

For hard-to-remove stains, apply a little amount of gentle detergent on the microfiber cloth. Then scrub the stain lightly.

2. Wash the eco-leather

Here, you can choose to wash it by hand in a large sink or use a washing machine. 

Use the correct water temperature, gentle detergent and agitation for better results.

If you’re using a washing machine, place the leather in a mesh laundry bag. This will help protect your eco leather from damage. It will also reduce the chances of wrinkling.

Consider using warm or cool water. Don’t use hot water as the leather may start melting.

3. Add a mild detergent

Next, add gentle detergent to the leather and swish your hand around it for easy distribution. Once finished, turn the leather bottom-up to enable water and detergent solution to reach the inner parts easily.

4. Gentle Agitation

When handwashing, swish the eco-leather through the water. Squeeze it gently and then soak for about 5 minutes. As for machine washing, choose a delicate cycle and lower the spin speed.

5. Rinse in Cool Water

Rinse your eco-leather garment in cool water until there’s no sud. This will also help eliminate excess detergent residues left on the leather. 

6. Air Dry the Leather

Never dry your eco-leather garment using a drying machine. High chances are that it will damage it. 

Instead, hang it in an open space and let it dry by air. Drying may take up to 24 hours.

To maintain your eco-leather, condition it with baby, coconut, or olive oil. Use the pressing cloth over the garment and iron it at the lowest heat setting to eliminate wrinkles. 

Is Eco Leather Washable?

Yes. Eco-leather is easily washable. You can wash it by hand or a machine washer. 

However, make sure you read the care label. That’s because not all linings are machine washable.

If you are not sure, seek advice from a reputable dry cleaner. Always use mild detergent and warm water for better results.

Does Eco Leather Stretch?

Eco-leather does stretch just like real leather does. The amount of stretch is often unnoticeable. 

However, eco-leather may crack when greatly stretched.

This type of leather is thin. So, it’s great for making footwear, outerwear, or other types of clothing. 

Why Is Eco Leather A Better Option For Businesses And Consumers?

Eco-leather is popular as it’s less toxic. It is also strong and relatively durable

Having said that, many businesses and consumers prefer it to others.

It comes at affordable prices yet good quality. Any standard buyer can afford it

To mention, eco lather is readily available in the fashion industry. It doesn’t have toxic chemicals like BPA. 

Plus, the materials used are purely natural, hence safe for the environment

With remarkable breathability, eco-leather is super comfy for use. It also looks more luxurious than most synthetic leathers out there.


Regular leather is perhaps the most durable. However, eco-leather is safe for the environment by far. 

The tanning agents and processes are eco-friendly.

Plus, the natural and vegan materials are biodegradable. Therefore, it can’t harm our planet. 

Eco-leather feature the following revolutionary characteristics:

  • Looks genuine
  • It has aesthetic value
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Natural tanning process
  • Reduces waste generation

Moreover, it is pretty easy to clean it. If well maintained, eco leather will last for several many years. 

To this end, we believe that our guide about eco-leather is helpful.

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