PETA accuses Horween Leather, an historical American tannery, of being co-responsible, or moral instigator (if you prefer), of the fires that have hit the Amazon rainforest. The animal rights association, which attended (and is attending) fashion weeks in London, Milan and Paris with hostile mobilisations against leather, bought a vertical posting on a billboard in Chicago, a few tens of meters from the Horween headquarters, to relate meat industry to the deforestation of the Brazilian rainforest. PETA’s suggestion is that for the consumer “dressing vegan” is a way to prevent arson. The misconception is already well-known: CICB had to answer to VF Corp and H&M, while Leather UK clarified the issue with the Guardian. But what does Horween Leather have to do with the matter? Reading PETA communique, we learn that their fault (so to speak) is being “one of the most longevous tanneries in the United States”.
Skip is astonished
Reached by the Block Club Chicago newspaper, Arnold “Skip” Horween, president of the tannery, can only express his surprise. His company, on the other hand, doesn’t even buy South American raw materials for tanning: “Our raw hides are all North American – he explains -. The day will come when the traceability systems will also tell us the specific farms they come from, but we know for sure that they originate from the US Midwest and central-southern Canada”.
Details that PETA is not interested in
The problem is that PETA doesn’t care about certain details. “If a company has been selling leather for 100 years – a spokesman for the association said to the newspaper – it is responsible for deforestation, not to mention climate change: it doesn’t matter in which country it produces”. If these are the methodological premises, the response of the USHSLA president Stephen Sothmann has little influence on the positions of the radical-veg, which emphasises that the slogan “wear vegan” means “synthetic clothes”. A turn that, in terms of sustainability, is not neutral at all.
The unfortunate Skip Horween has causes for regret. That does not assume a conspiratorial attitude on the meat-leather chain (“No animal should be abused and, if it is shown that someone has done it, it is punished according to the law”) and proves open to dialogue. Here, however, there was no dialogue: PETA never contacted him. “We’ve all had an experience of quarrels with those who know how to scream louder than us”, he says. The truth ends up getting out of sight and only the noise is affirmed: nothing can be extracted from such a situation. But what is this, a public trial? It is doesn’t fix anything. If there are problems, let’s identify them and solve them. But I don’t meddle with someone good at just putting up posters”.
Photos from PETA’s Instagram account