I absolutely love hand-crafted leather goods and up until now it’s been that same admiration for the end product that’s quite frankly obstructed me from even considering as a whole what the process of turning raw-skin into leather looks like. The leather processing requires a lot of energy and the industry is a serious pollutant, especially in the city of Kanpur, India which accomodates the biggest leather tanning centers in the country.
Apparently the process requires dangerous chemicals many of which are untreated and released onto farm land and so many of the chemicals have accumulated in the water, subsequently accumulated in the soil which has gone into people’s plants which people consume locally and now there’s a wide variety of health effects from skin diseases, rising risk of cancer and even mental disabilities in young children.
Sean Gallagher, a British environmental photojournalist and videographer based in Beijing, China has recently released a short documentary which sheds light on the extreme pollution the tanneries have had on the citizens of Kanpur. Such an eye-opener.