Cheap bags, where do they come from?

Everyone knows the answer, of course, from countries such as China and India and other cheap production countries.

During our trading trips we saw why the production there is so cheap. This is not only due to cheap labor, but also because the production is very polluting and happens under appalling conditions.

Especially with tanneries, this is literally disastrous for the environment.

Vervuiling bij het looijen van leer in India

Why is leather tanning so polluting?

Here at Wikipedia they provide a detailed explanation of the tanning process. Making leather from skins requires many harmful chemicals, such as chromium, arsenic and formaldehyde.

The pollution is still enormous because many of these chemicals are simply released untreated into nature.

Today, most tanneries are located in developing countries. This is mainly because the environmental regulations in those countries are much less strict than in the EU.

In the media

Reputable media report on the abuses:

  • National Geographic, “Industry on the Banks: Deep Inside Kanpur’s Tanneries” (link)
  • Pulitzer Center, “Leather Comes At a Price to India’s Workers” (link)
  • India Today, “In Pictures: the toxic cost of Kanpur’s leather industry” (link)

Where does OldSchoolBags buy her leather?

Sometimes we get that question and we are very open about that. We buy our leather from two tanneries:

  • Wendel Leather in the North Brabant town of Rijen. They meet the strictest Dutch requirements and we have been working with them confidently for eight years (see also their Health & Safety website page).
  • Montana S.p.A. in Italy. They make the most beautiful Italian leather in a very responsible way, using only natural vegetable tannins. They are also members of the Genuine Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium, see these certificates here

They are fair bags for a fair price, and that feels a lot better.