Living in the 21st century, one of the significant risks we face is our deteriorating environment. Since the dawn of industrialization, we have constantly been adding harmful gasses, chemicals, and other non-degradable pollutants to our ecosystem. Our air, water, and lands are getting more and more inhabitable for ourselves and other species. According to an estimate by WWF, every year, around 10,000 species go extinct due to human activities. This rate is way higher than the background extinction rate. The situation is alarming and needs our utmost attention.
When we started this company, Farooq and I were very concerned about the impacts we might have on the environment due to our operations. In a country like Pakistan, the lack of regulations makes it easy for businesses to exploit the environment to make more and more profit. In a situation like this, a responsible company should formulate its own rules to restrict itself from causing harm to the environment. The environment was one of our primary focuses during the initial stages of the company. We discussed ideas for supply chain mainly leather sourcing and manufacturing that will have minimal impact on our surrounding.
- We leave a better world for our coming generations to live in and breathe in.
- No animal dies for the sake of fashion.
- No animal is treated with cruelty.
- Everyone wins.
With these rules in mind, we established Aurochs. As we are moving forward, we are constantly looking for vendors, suppliers, and tanners who believe in what we believe in. We are hopeful to cultivate a culture that we can truly be proud of, and that can be an example for others to follow.
One of the main challenges we are facing right now is the use of chromium-based chemicals in the leather industry. Use of Chromium salts in leather tanning is very common. Compared to vegetable tanning, it takes less time and less money to produce a high-quality leather that can endure heat and moisture well. But the good quality comes at the cost of huge environmental impacts. The leftover salt solution is drained into the open channels where it poses risks for all kind of living species. If you visit the small towns of Kasur and Shekhupura near Lahore(Punjab), you will notice the light blue colored water in the sewerage system.
Even in the carefully managed facilities, it is almost impossible to eliminate the hazardous pollutants generated by the tanning process totally. An estimated one ton of tanned leather produces 50 cubic meters of wastewater with chrome concentration as high as 250 mg/L and sulfide concentration at roughly 500mg/L.
To discourage the use of chromium salts in the tanning process, we are refraining ourselves from using chrome-tanned leather and instead are going for a more natural and environment-friendly Vegetable Tanned Leather. Vegetable-tanned leather is an expensive option because of the longer lead time, and the higher skill set it requires and the high cost of tanning material. But that's what we have to pay to protect our environment.
We believe that by adopting better design and manufacturing practices, we can reduce the leather wastage in our workshops. An estimated 30% of finished leather is wasted during the cutting and stitching process. This wastage directly affects our environment and increases negative footprints. First of all, 30% wastage means 30% increase in overall energy consumption in the production of finished leather. This increase in energy consumption results in lower productivity and higher costs. Secondly, the residual leather waste, if not properly reused or dumped, poses another threat to our environment. By using biodegradable, vegetable-tanned leather, we addressed the second threat to some extent, but still, it is something that can be further optimized using better engineering practices in the manufacturing process. We see a future where no animal skin is wasted due to our inability or lack of willingness to fully utilize it.
We also believe that no animal should die for the sake of fashion. We make sure that our leather comes from cows raised primarily for milk and meat. We discourage the practice of farming animals for the sole purpose of leather. Such animals are widely mistreated and malnourished to keep the leather cost low.
Our commitment to the environment is not limited to the things we discussed above. We face new challenges every day, and we have to adapt ourselves to better cope with the situations at hand. As part of our commitment to our values, we promise ourselves and our community that we will never compromise on processes and take decisions at Aurochs that can harm our environment in short or long term.
Our goal for 2020:
- Get B-Corp certification by the year-end.