Is Wearing Second-Hand Leather Or Wool Vegan?

Is Wearing Second-Hand Leather Or Wool Vegan

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I’ve been searching for some good, comfy shoes for some time now. It’s been honestly a bit of a hustle to find something that is 1) sustainable, 2) comfortable, and 3) cute & that I like.

Because of this I started looking for second-hand choices, and I found some cool options, but then I saw – it was made with leather. 

I started thinking; well, sure, I’m vegan and don’t want to use anything that contains the flesh of an animal – but what about if it is second-hand? 

This made me think; is wearing second-hand leather or wool a ‘vegan-friendly’ choice? After some thinking and reading what people say on forums and groups, I got my answer.

In this article, we’ll explore the complexities of this question, examining the ethical considerations, environmental impacts, and practical implications of wearing second-hand animal-derived materials.

Let’s begin! 

Is Wearing Second-Hand Leather Or Wool Vegan

First off, what does it mean to be vegan? 

Veganism is more than just a dietary or environmental choice. While it does have benefits both for your health and it is an environmentally friendly way to eat, the main point of that lifestyle is rooted in compassion for animals and reducing all possible exploitation and use of animals. 

The goal is to minimize all harm to animals and promote a more compassionate world for all living beings while reducing environmental degradation. This means avoiding all animal products; from what we eat, the products we use, and the clothes we wear. 

Benefits of wearing second-hand leather or wool as a vegan: 

Potentially saves items from landfills: Just 15% of discarded clothing and textiles (in the U.S.) are collected for reuse or recycling. The rest ends up in landfills. (1, 2) Second-hand clothes and shoes are already in circulation, and you are potentially preventing items from ending up in landfills. 

Resource conservation: Leather and wool production typically involves energy-intensive processes and transportation. By extending the lifespan of existing garments, you contribute to resource conservation and waste reduction. Also, some “vegan” leather materials are often made from plastic, which is not the most sustainable choice. 

Promotes circular fashion: Choosing second-hand leather or wool promotes garments to be reused, repaired, and repurposed to minimize waste and maximize resource efficiency. 

Is Wearing Second-Hand Leather Or Wool Vegan

Problems with wearing second-hand leather or wool as a vegan: 

An ethical dilemma: Despite being second-hand, leather and wool garments are derived from animals and may still perpetuate the idea of using animals for clothing. It can create confusion and struggle for new vegans with the ethical implications of wearing items that were originally produced through animal exploitation.

Mixed messaging: Wearing second-hand leather or wool could send mixed messages about veganism and animal rights. While the intention may be to promote sustainability and reduce waste, others may perceive it as condoning the use of animal-derived materials in fashion. 

Normalizing the use of leather & wool: From a sustainability standpoint, second-hand leather is a sustainable option. However, it does normalize using someone’s skin for our clothing, bags, accessories, etc. Even though second-hand, other people won’t know that, and when wearing it, we kind of send the message ‘it is okay to use animal flesh for our clothes’.  

Ethical accountability: Wearing leather or wool, regardless of its origin, undermines the principles of veganism. Artificially breeding, enslaving, torturing, and murdering animals just to use their bodies as commodities is immoral and unnecessary.

Supply & demand: Some believe that wearing second-hand leather, wool or other animal-derived materials doesn’t harm animals because it doesn’t increase demand for animal products. While it is true that it is already created & in circulation, purchasing it can increase popularity, value, and desirability. As more people buy second-hand animal products, thrift stores, and fashion markets may seek out more of these items, and could indirectly contribute to higher demand. 

Is Wearing Second-Hand Leather Or Wool Vegan

My personal view on things

Some vegans may prefer to avoid all animal-derived materials, while others may see reusing second-hand items as a way to minimize waste. 

In the nature of my blog, it would make sense that I use second-hand leather or wool, since is it a more environmentally friendly choice, than buying something new. 

However, I do not feel it is aligned with my moral stand to wear leather or wool, even if it is second-hand. I don’t consider animals to be here for us. Maybe in the past, we used their flesh out of necessity for our survival, but this is not the case now. 

I’d prefer to get something that’s both second-hand & cruelty-free. 

Is Wearing Second-Hand Leather Or Wool Vegan

As for you…

Do what feels right. I’m not here to tell you what you should do. If you have reasons to ‘justify’ wearing second-hand animal-derived items, or feel comfortable wearing them under certain circumstances, then do it.

If you feel you can find other alternatives that don’t involve wool & leather, and you feel more comfortable with those other options, then skip the second-hand leather/wool. 

I know vegans that wear second-hand leather and vegans who don’t. I think here it all boils down to your reasons for going vegan and moral standpoints. 

In any case, I am not here to judge or say my way is the ultimate way. “My way” is my choice, and what’s “right” for me.

I feel we should show more compassion not only towards animals, but also towards our own species, and be less judgemental & more understanding towards each other.

Each of us is in a different stage of our journey, so because of this, I prefer to focus on myself and do what feels right for me; if you relate to it – great. If not, it’s also great. We have something to talk about and hear different perspectives. 🙂

Where do we draw the line?

This is where it can get tricky. I’ve heard different definitions and ‘versions of veganism’ including people consuming the eggs their chickens lay, consuming roadkill or dumpster diving & eating animal products that were thrown away. 

Some people claim that wool is ethical because sheep would actually suffer if they weren’t sheared regularly. But the fact is that the wool industry isn’t what we want to believe it is. There are a ton of unethical practices that are all standard practices, like tail docking, mulesing, and castration. 

We should not forget that at its core, veganism is rooted in the ethical belief that animals should not be used, exploited, or harmed for human purposes. The point is to reduce all animal suffering, to the best of our abilities.

What about the leather & wool you had before going vegan?

Again, do what feels alright for you. You can keep wearing it, or if you don’t want that – give it away to friends or charity. 

For example, I had a wool sweater and I gave it away in a Clothing swap event I organized.

I currently own a very old leather wallet, that my aunt got a long time ago. She then got a new one and my granny took it. After that, my granny got a new one, so she offered it to me. I didn’t have one, so I took it (it was before being vegan).

I’ve been using this wallet for many years now, and it is kind of broken, so I can’t really donate it / give it away. Because of this, I prefer to use it up until it completely falls apart.

So, I guess there could be exceptions, and like I said before ‘do what feels right’. For me, it doesn’t make sense to throw away something that I can still use (but can’t donate due to its condition), and get something new.

Is Wearing Second-Hand Leather Or Wool Vegan

Vegan alternatives to leather and wool

Nowadays, there are plenty of cruelty-free and sustainable alternatives made without animal-derived materials. 

Plant-based leather replacements, such as mushroom leather, pineapple leather, or cactus leather offer durable, eco-friendly, and ethical options. While it is still not that easily accessible, it is hopeful to see the growth of ‘plant-based leather’.

About wool, recycled materials provide a cruelty-free alternative to traditional wool. To find a list of the most sustainable textiles, read my article


While second-hand materials are a sustainable choice, they still pose ethical dilemmas. 

By exploring alternative materials and supporting cruelty-free fashion brands, you can make informed choices that align with your values and promote a more compassionate and sustainable future.

I would love to hear what’s your point of view on this, so feel free to leave a comment below, and we can chat about it. 🙂

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