9 votes

America is obsessed with beef. But it has no use for hides, so leather prices plunge

Tags: economics

2 comments

  1. cptcobalt
    Link
    This headline is unfair to the article. I suspect that an editor meddled with the headline & original conceit of the piece to give it a stronger economic/business focus. You see, I think it fails...

    This headline is unfair to the article. I suspect that an editor meddled with the headline & original conceit of the piece to give it a stronger economic/business focus.

    You see, I think it fails to actually close the gap between the idea of leather prices plunging and the still high cost of leather goods. For instance, it undermines its own point by bringing up the low economic returns of imperfect hides.

    As a consumer, I'm not averse to buying leather. I own quite a few leather products: a phone case, several watch bands, and a wallet. I'd actually have taken leather seats in my new car if it was an option. (No, I won't buy seat covers, though.) Still, too, I don't feel like the price of leather goods has dropped at all. There are still things that I want to own, like a leather desk pad (that meets my, uh, exacting specifications) that I just can't find outside that of a demo table of an Apple store.

    Rather, this article should have been written from the point of view that clearly sank to the bottom of the piece: synthetic leather causes a larger environmental impact. Absolutely, the economics of it matters too, but that doesn't matter to anyone other than number crunchers. If a clever marketer leverages the idea that vegan leather is less green than natural leather, and that we're wasting a resource that we already produce en masse, I bet the trend would reverse. The article just didn't go far enough.

    It should go without saying that I'm fully aware that natural leather is not actually a green product. (And, that we should produce less of it over time.) However, the additional waste generated by a market for non-recyclable/poorly recyclable synthetic leather sways at least the moral relativism of it—though I may not have enough data to fully support the nuance of this point.

    4 votes
  2. Gyrfalcon
    Link
    This seems like people aren't willing to make the same decisions in the clothing aisle and at the dinner table. Which is a shame, really, because if we've already got the leather it doesn't make...

    This seems like people aren't willing to make the same decisions in the clothing aisle and at the dinner table. Which is a shame, really, because if we've already got the leather it doesn't make much sense to pump oil out of the ground to make clothes instead.

    2 votes