Drab or Fab: Bennett Leather Lounge Chairs (Are They Green?)

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My husband is a vegetarian, but I’m not quite there yet. I’m on my way though, as I don’t eat any red meat or pork — just poultry and seafood. But I love the look of leather furniture. I’ve never been a huge fan of leather clothing, but on a club chair? I can’t help but appreciate the luxurious look and feel of tightly upholstered leather. And the dream home office I have conjured in my head includes two beautiful white leather Barcelona chairs.

I can’t, however, shake the notion that no cow should have to die to upholster a chair. After all, if I won’t eat beef, why should I decorate my home with its skin? This, of course, comes from the logical side of my brain. The creative, design geek side just wants a beautiful leather chair. The Bennett Lounge Chairs, shown above in black (though it looks brown in the photo) and white, are clean, simple and pretty affordable at just $159.99 apiece. They also find a bit of a middle ground between my two warring opinions: They are upholstered in recycled leather.

Therein lies the dilemma. Is recycled letter better than virgin leather, or is it just as bad? Does the fact that the leather is in it’s second life make it more green? Personally, I’m on the fence about this one. Recycled leather is, by definition, greener than virgin leather. But is leather, in an of itself, anti-green? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!

Price: $159.99 (aff)

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4 comments… add one

  • planetdigs May 12, 2009, 4:21 pm

    funny you should mention this. i’ve never purchased leather clothing or furniture from a retail store for the reasons you speak of at the beginning of the article. however, i do purchase leather clothing and furniture from secondhand stores, garage sales, etc… because i feel as though it gives the animal a “second chance” as though there was a purpose to its existence other than the garbage.

    as for recycled leather, i’d have to know the origins of the recycled leather. are they scraps (so new but potentially wasted?), or are they made from old leather furniture, clothing and then reused? these two options would sit well with me. so the question begs; what exactly is recycled leather?

  • Laura May 14, 2009, 9:34 am

    I don’t eat red meat because I’m paranoid, so my objections aren’t moral. But I think that the point of ‘green’ is that the way in which it’s produced is the least harmful to the environment, and when it’s in use it’s the least harmful, and when it’s done or gone, again, least harmful. So animals–bred for any human purpose (cows, chickens, fish farms)–need to be bred greenly, slaughtered greenly, and their entire remains used greenly in order for it to be green. Do we ever have that? Does that even happen here? I know that Laura’s Lean Beef in Kentucky attempts to make the whole process organic and natural and humane. So that’s a step in the right direction. I guess anything recycled is a step in the right direction as well–reuse is always better than buying new.

  • jennae May 14, 2009, 10:28 am

    @planetdigs You make an excellent point. Just knowing that the leather is recycled isn’t really enough, is it? It would be helpful to know where the leather came from. It is pre-consumer, or post-consumer? Is the process by which it was recycled environmentally friendly? This illustrates why it’s always a good idea to ask questions of your retailer or manufacturer when you’re unsure about a product’s origins. It also illustrates that buying green isn’t always black and white — no pun intended.

    @Laura I know that when cows is raised and processed for food, there is documentation of the process from start to finish. However, I wonder if the same documentation exists for leather products. Thanks for adding another viewpoint to the argument.

    And thank you both for starting the conversation! Any other opinions?

  • Skye May 16, 2009, 12:32 pm

    I am a vegetarian for moral reasons, but I do buy leather shoes in resale shops. These chairs are an interesting challenge. If it’s pre-consumer scraps that would not have otherwise been landfilled, on the one hand the company is keeping materials out of the landfill and on the other hand they’re reducing their costs by avoiding disposal fees and I’m not sure I would want to help them do that even though it’s greener. But if you’re deciding purely on green grounds, it’s great. If it’s post consumer then I’m all for it. I doubt it is, since it seems like consistent quality would be tough to produce that way.

    Skyes last blog post..Mark His Words

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