A debate broke over one of Greta Thunberg’s armchairs… The Swedish activist appears in a picture while held by her mother. But he political adversaries, calling her a hypocrite, do so due to an armchair in the background. The more attentive ones recognized it: it’s the Eames Lounge Chair more, design piece from 1956 which is worth, depending on the producer, about 1,000 euro. Of course, the activist’s supporters came to the rescue, defending the founder of Fridays for Future. Debunkers, if that wasn’t enough, joined in on the debate. But (almost) everybody, is missing the value of leather in this photo. Its presence wouldn’t actually be a negative note for Greta, but rather something to be proud of.
The first round of debate
Let’s say it right away: the first level of this conversation finds no interest from La Conceria. It’s about an environmentalism connected to a society that is simply critical of consumerism. The fact that the Thunberg family has spent thousand of euro (or Crowns) on a luxury object would be a treason to the cause. Many argue that the Eames Lounge Chair model exists in cheap versions as well, manufactured by low-end producers. That being said, it is absolutely irrelevant whther they have bought the chair or now.
The debate over leather
The second level of the debate, on the other hand, hits us close to the chest. Eames Lounge Chair is upholstered in leather. For those that are against, or in favor of it, this topic is simply disappointing. The meaning of it rests with the veg-friendly counter-culture: “Leather is a byproduct of the livestock industry, animals were killed to get the hides – or that’s how is usually goes -, to make a leather goods, which is equal to touching the blood of the animal killed for it”.
Debunkers and Greta’s defenders did in-depth research on any furniture catalog they could get their hands on. “Ah! There are also textile-covered versions on the market – they write – or simil-leather ones”. As if the possibility that the product is made of plastic (while environmentalists want to go plastic-free), is a positive note for Greta’s position. Bah.
The debunkers and public alike continue to miss the point that leather is gift, not a detrimental material hurting the environment. Bovines and ovines aren’t farmed for their hides, but rather for meat and milk. Leather is a byproduct of the livestock industry which, without the tanning industry, would need to be disposed of, just as other types of waste. Tanning has, for millenniums now, been a circular industry: it upcycles a material that would otherwise be burnt of go to landfills. On the other hand, it doesn’t give back life to a byproduct, it even adds value to it, because it transforms it into something precious, useful for the high-end design industry, for example.
News coming from South America are very clear: demand for leather can be down, but slaughterhouses continue to work at full regiment. The hides leftover from that process, would end up in a landfill if the tanning industry didn’t re-use them. A leather-covered armchair fits right in at the Thunberg’s house, because it truly is green and sustainable.