It turns out that Skippy the bush kangaroo might be the best choice for your next leather handbag or even football boots. Not only is Kangaroo leather environmentally sustainable, it’s lightweight, strong, and visually quite appealing.
Kangaroos have been roaming around Australia for thousands years and their meat and hide is integral to indigenous culture yet to most Australians they aren’t even thought of as a meat or leather alternative. They’re a pest for cattle farmers and it’s argued that the introduction of artificial waterholes and lush cattle pastures have led to an increase in kangaroo populations in some areas. For these reasons it seems logical to many, to utilize out national animal as a food and leather resource under strict guidelines.
Kangaroo populations are heavily monitored and regulated under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Unlike commercial production of cattle, they are not farmed and are only permitted to be harvested by being shot in the head by skilled professional shooters. When shooting kangaroos companies are required to adhere to the annual hunting quota for each state which is usually around 10-15% of the total population. Shooters also required to follow the National code of practice for the humane shooting of kangaroos and wallabies for commercial purposes and are only permitted to kill 4 species, the common Wallaroo or Euro, Western grey kangaroo, Eastern grey kangaroo and the Red kangaroo in specific areas. Although kangaroos aren’t farmed and do not have to suffer from being crammed into trucks or trains, or being put in tight spaces, being fed pellets, and suffering from other inhuman conditions, there are still a few possible complications when shooting wild kangaroos. The shooting of wild kangaroos means that on rare occasions dependent family members, in most cases joeys, are left orphaned. In some instances, if the shooter misses the head the kangaroos and they are shot in the body, hop away to suffer a slow, painful death. The national code of practice which requires hunters to find orphaned joeys, and injured kangaroos where possible, is a way of trying to minimalise animal cruelty but out of the 2-4 million kangaroos that are killed each year, the RSPCA estimates that approximately 100 000 kangaroos are unethically slaughtered. Companies such as Adidas have stopped using Kangaroo leather for these reasons and in 2006 soccer star David Beckham refused to wear shoes made from this cute furry animal.
Yet the argument for the practicality of kangaroo leather cannot be faulted. The weave angle of kangaroo hide is 30% compared to other leathers which have a weave angle of over 60%, making kangaroo one of the strongest leathers available. The elastin is evenly dispersed throughout the skin and does not contain fat or sweat glands. The means that kangaroo skin retains it’s strength even when split and is around four times stronger than cow hide. Kangaroo leather’s durability lends itself to large amounts of wear and tear making it a good long lasting choice for any wardrobe. Being more breathable, comfortable and hard-wearing than other animal leather or synthetic counterparts, Kangaroo is a definitely a good choice for any conscious consumer.
The environmental advantage of Kangaroos should have cattle farmers scared. A kangaroo’s grass diet means they produce marginal amounts of methane compared to cows. Unlike cows or other hoofed animals, they do not damage the land, due to foot trotting. In times of drought they do not require pellets and water to be transported in, reducing transportation miles. Kangaroo leather is also easier to process and preserve. Unlike in other leather industries, Kangaroos hide is rarely salted before tanning, reducing salt consumption and associated environmental consequences. This also means that there are less health risks from the chemicals and salts used and reduces double handing and other economic costs. Kangaroo leather means less food miles, reduced emissions and a superior product compared to other leather products. If you choice to buy animal products, consider buying your next; hat, belt, gloves, jacket, handbag or set of football boots from an Australian kangaroo leather producer. You will be doing the environment and your wallet a favor.