The Social And Environmental Impacts Of Leather Production

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<ul><li> 1. Hoof to Hide The Social and Environmental Impactsof Leather Production Elmer Tosta Race Poverty and the Environment Professor Raquel R. Pinderhughes Urban Studies Program San Francisco State University Spring 2003 Public has permission to use the material herein, butonlyif author, course, university, and professor are credited .</li></ul><p> 2. Introduction </p> <ul><li>This Presentation focuses on Leather. </li></ul><ul><li>It is designed to take you through the cradle to grave lifecycle of leather, paying particular attention tothe social, environmental, and public health impacts of the processes associated with its origins on the animal through its preparation for use by the consumer. </li></ul><p> 3. </p> <ul><li>We start by looking at the factory farm processes, the slaughtering of the animals, the tanning of the skins. finally, their disposal when they are no longer desirable </li></ul><ul><li>Throughout this report comparisons will be drawn between developed and developing nations.These comparisons will help illustrate the social and environmental injustices imposed upon developing nations by the developed ones through consumptive demand for product. </li></ul><p> 4. </p> <ul><li>The leather industry exists on many different levels throughout the world.In the United States, the industry is probably the highest quality in terms of working conditions and environmental concerns, but by no means ideal. </li></ul><ul><li>The industry is not growing, consequently there is no expansion, no people being dislocated, only the shift of one type of production to another. </li></ul><ul><li>The biggest market in the U.S. for leather is the auto industry </li></ul><p> 5. The Problem </p> <ul><li>The steps in producing and tanning animal skins starting in the corral and ending at the sales counter as finished goods is a long process that leaves its effects on individuals and communities world wide. </li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>For some there is economic gain. </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li><ul><li>Wages to workers </li></ul></li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li><ul><li>Profits to owners and investors who are involved in livestock farming and the manufacture, distribution, and retail of leather products. </li></ul></li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>For others there is the disease that comes from exposure. </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li><ul><li>Directly working in the tanning process. </li></ul></li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li><ul><li>Using water and produce contaminated with by-products from factory feedlots, slaughterhouses, and tanneries. </li></ul></li></ul></li></ul><p> 6. Scope of Report </p> <ul><li>Feedlots, slaughterhouses, and tanneries in the U.S., Thailand, Viet Nam, India, and Bangladesh will be cited. </li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Big business is not an assurance of the practice of sound environmental justice principles. </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Small businesses in developing countries can be deadly to those who cling to their ways of making a living in the leather industry . </li></ul></li></ul><p> 7. Scope (Cont.) </p> <ul><li>Companies have made public stands against theinhumane slaughter of animals, but are not so quick to take the same stand and boycott a facility for its work conditions or its disregard of the environment and the effects that these behaviors have on the workers and residents in the vicinity of the production site. </li></ul><p> 8. How did leather come into being? </p> <ul><li>When leather was a protective skin, used to keep people warm or protect them from the elements, it was used in balance with the environment and the processes used in tanning werent lethal.The skins came from a local producer.The concept was smaller, and from the impression given by the research, kinder and gentler to the animals as well as humans.The quantity of leather produced was much lower, and probably the population owned fewer, if any, leather garments or sat on leather upholstered seats.</li></ul><p> 9. </p> <ul><li>Only after the market responded to the vanity of consumers did the development of different processes affect the health and well being of industry workers and residents near feedlots and tanneries.TheSierra Club Rap Sheetpoints out that in the current market, (referring to beef for food), because of demand, there would never be a kinder gentler way and that the agricultural factories were here to stay. </li></ul><p> 10. </p> <ul><li>TheSierra Club Rap Sheetreads like a whos who of environmental violators in the slaughterhouse and meat packing industries within the United States.Locations ranging from the Midwest, (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska), to the South, (Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas), are home to slaughterhouses that have been found to be guilty of contaminating their natural environments. </li></ul><p> 11. </p> <ul><li>Tanneries around the world, as cited by various sources in this report, will be shown as examples of workplaces that contaminate to their environments as well as expose their workers to hazardous conditions.</li></ul><p> 12. In some parts of the world, people are dying to get into the business. </p> <ul><li>An anonymous article in theAfrican Newsdescribes a situation where the population of Namibia is asking their government to allow the slaughtering of cattle, which the government is cautious about because of the lack of facilities.Namibia is looking to expand its capacity to slaughter its own cattle in order to avoid exporting on the hoof.The problem is that they dont have sufficient slaughterhouses and tanneries to process their livestock.</li></ul><p> 13. </p> <ul><li>The government of Namibia is concerned that lack of appropriate facilities will lead to conditions similar to those in Bangladesh and India, (described elsewhere in this report), where health and environmental hazards have gotten out of control by spreading pollution and disease.The government should receive accolades for not jumping at an economic incentive that jeopardizes the health of its citizens and their future generations. </li></ul><p> 14. Even more people dying to get in. </p> <ul><li>The communities of Tangra and Tiljala in India were protesting in 2002 the proposed closing of their tanneries to benefit a larger production facility that would put them out of work(Niyogi, Novemer 23, 2002) .This situation mimics the post civil was Slaughterhouse Cases where the authorities removed economic opportunity from the disenfranchised for the benefit of the more powerful business owner.Again, this points to a situation where people are fighting for an opportunity to work in a lethal industry. </li></ul><p> 15. Thank the Untouchables for the cheap labor. </p> <ul><li>The lowest members of the caste system, known as the untouchables, make up the workforce of the Indian leather industry. </li></ul><ul><li>The caste system does not allow them to work their way up or out of the oppressed and disenfranchised conditions theyre born into. </li></ul><ul><li>Their low status condemns them to lifelong exposure to numerous toxins and unsafe work conditions which are detrimental to their health and the health of subsequent generations(Srivastava, August 23, 2001) .</li></ul><p> 16. Women in the workforce </p> <ul><li>60% of the 2.5 million workers who make up the Indian leather industry labor force are women.Many of themn are the single wage earner in the family (Srivstava, August 23, 2001) .</li></ul><p> 17. Animals First </p> <ul><li>Ironically, the plight of these workers was brought to the attention of the general public through the efforts of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who organized a boycott by large domestic and foreign manufacturers who use Indian leather in their products.The focus of the boycott was the cruel treatment of the animals(Srivastava, august 23, 2001) . </li></ul><p> 18. </p> <ul><li>Developed nations were more readily moved into action by the pleas of animal rights activists than by the needs of those who produce their luxury goods. </li></ul><ul><li>The emotional appeal of leather industry workers suffering doesnt always tug at the heartstrings of consumers. </li></ul><p> 19. </p> <ul><li>Demand for leather goods forces unfair labor practices.The tannery that produces the best product in Hazaribagh, Bangladesh is the one staffed by children (Skeem, October 3, 2002). </li></ul><ul><li>The implications of workers lifelong exposure to the tanning process in a country with no safety standards would be unthinkable to most consumers in developed counties.The problem is most consumers arent aware of these conditions. </li></ul><p> 20. A Tale of Two Slums </p> <ul><li>One slum, in Seoul, has developed on the site of a former slaughterhouse, pointing out the the types of conditions in which the poor in developing nations are forced to live. </li></ul><p> 21. </p> <ul><li>The other slum in Bangkok is inhabited by Christians who slaughter pigs (which is not allowed by the Buddhist population).There is a market for these animals and their skins, and consequently, the poorest segment of the economy is forced to slaughter animals in an inappropriate facitlity (probably their living quarters) in order to survive.</li></ul><p> 22. </p> <ul><li>These two situations describe the degrading living conditions of people who have no means or network of support to rise above their conditions(Swift, R. January, 1995). </li></ul><p> 23. What happens to workers in a developing country when a large manufacturer leaves? </p> <ul><li>Once an industry pulls out, there is not much employment hope for those left behind, particularly if theyve suffered an occupational injury.In 2002, Reebok pulled out of Viet Nam.An article inFootwear News , (Oct. 14, 2002) expressed concern for workers in a country with a lack of ability to develop safe standards for its workers(Ellis, Oct 14,2002). </li></ul><p> 24. </p> <ul><li>The author cites high incidents of musculoskeletal and neurobehavioral disorders in a large percentage (not specified) of the workers due to repetitive movement and exposure to chemical solvents(Ellis, Oct 14,2002).China and Viet Nam are cited as high risk countries with regard to worker welfare.Do these workers end up in other high risk industries when an American manufacturer pulls out? </li></ul><p> 25. </p> <ul><li>In some cases (such as this one involving Reebok), American manufacturers make up a majority of the production demands of some of these developing nations, thereby jeopardizing the livelihoods and the health of a large segment of the population.</li></ul><ul><li>Ellis points out that when a country goes from a dictatorship to a democracy; the American companies usually pull out, leaving behind a physically injured and unemployed workforce for which the company shares no liability.</li></ul><ul><li>Viet Nam is cited as a country targeted by the World Bank to develop and improve its footwear industry(Ellis, Oct 14,2002). </li></ul><p> 26. What happens when the workers leave? </p> <ul><li>TheHandbook of Texasgives a history of the leather industry in the state and points to its decline due to reduced demand for Western apparel and the mechanization of the industry.Two centers, Gainsville and Yoakum, had the larges thriving leather tanning and manufacturing businesses in the state during the 1960s </li></ul><p> 27. Whered they go? </p> <ul><li>The effects these businesses had on their workers and the community at large should be evident, however the migration of a workforce that occurs when an industry experiences a downturn makes it difficult to trace the well being of these people with regard to their economic status and health conditions.Theres a high probability based upon the locations o these facilities that the majority of the workforce was Latino. </li></ul><p> 28. </p> <ul><li>Because of the low labor costs in places like China, the Philippines, and India, the leather demand remains high due to the reduced price of tanning the skins. </li></ul><ul><li>India is cited as one of the greatest violators of workers rights and the environment within the leather industry(Srivastava, August 23, 2001). </li></ul><p> 29. What are the effects on the local ecosystems where production takes place? 30. </p> <ul><li>When we use a leather product we probably dont feel any injustice or immediate and direct environmental effect from product use.The effects, unfortunately are far more reaching than most of us realize. </li></ul><ul><li>American manufacturers are the largest consumers of leather, and more specifically, leather from India(Vartan, Sept/Oct 2002)Note: recent boycotts of Indian leather by American Manufacturers might have changed this situation. </li></ul><p> 31. Factory Farms </p> <ul><li><ul><li>U.S. beef, chicken, and pig industries produce 291,000,000,000 lbs of manure annually. </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>This waste is normally held in open lagoons.</li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>In some cases, it is diluted and sprayed onto farm land. </li></ul></li></ul><p> 32. Water Pollution </p> <ul><li><ul><li>Animal waste is one of the largest uncontrolled sources of water pollution in the U.S.(Swift, M. November 25, 2002) </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>The seepage from the lagoons as well as run-off from the sprayed land ends up in drinking water. </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li><ul><li>Sierra Club reports growth hormones, antibiotics, ammonia, pathogens, and pesticides enter the water supply via animal waste. </li></ul></li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li><ul><li>The cattle industry consumed 20 million pounds of chemicals at a value of 4.2 billion dollars in the year 2000. </li></ul></li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Contamination of crops from spraying lagoon water waste as fertilizer. </li></ul></li></ul><p> 33. </p> <ul><li>Our resources in theU.S. are not immune to careless accidents by private industry. </li></ul><ul><li>One example from many is Cargill Pork, Inc. The company was cited for contaminating the water in the Loutre River in Missouri with animal waste products.(Becker, E. August 13, 2002) </li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Becker does explain that Cargill cooperated with inspectors, cleaned up the affected waterway, and shut down the offending operation.These measures help reduce the possibility of future accidents, but unfortunately do not help those exposed to the waste from the first contamination.</li></ul></li></ul><p> 34. Factory Farms (Cont.) </p> <ul><li><ul><li>Other environmental degradations from factory farming include trees cleared to create pastureland, vast quantities of water are used, and feedlot and dairy farm runoff create a major source of water polution( </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li> Huge amounts of fossil fuels are consumed in livestock production ( </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li><ul><li> By Contrast, plastic wearables account for only a fraction of 1 percent of the petroleum used in the U.S( </li></ul></li></ul></li></ul><p> 35. </p> <ul><li><ul><li><ul><li>High quantities of water required. ( </li></ul></li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li>Air pollution </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li><ul><li>Hydrogen sulfide produced from hog farms (Sierra Club Rap Sheet). </li></ul></li></ul></li></ul><p> 36. Slaughterhouses </p> <ul><li>The slaughtering of animals has traditionally been regarded at the low end of the socio-economic scale.This was reinforced in America in the late 19 thcentury with the Slaughterhouse Cases.The Institute for Justice web site is one of many resources containing articles describing these legal decisions. </li></ul><p> 37. </p> <ul><li> Several parishes (counties) in eastern Louisiana wanted to move all meat and butchering slaughter house activities to a location outside the city limits.In so doing, the local government provided the Crescent City Live-stock Landing &amp; Slaughter-house Company a 25 year monopoly to monitor and oversee all slaughter house operations.This monopoly effectively put all butchers in the area out of work, thus depriving these people of the right to work ( Institute for Justice.1998, May).</li></ul><p> 38. </p> <ul><li>The decisions on these cases undid the work of the 14 thamendment.I chose this reference because it reinforces the negative economic effects on a particular segment of the society whose first employment and business opportunity was in a dirty industry.That segment was the newly freed slaves trying to get into the butchering industry in New Orleans.These cases lay the groundwork of racial injustice within the leather industry.</li></ul><p> 39. Leather Manufactuing/Tanning </p> <ul><li><ul><li>High energy consumption </li></ul></li></ul><ul><li><ul><li><ul><li> On the basis of quantity of energy consumed per unit of product produced, the leather-manufact...</li></ul></li></ul></li></ul>