midoridensha 15 days ago

This is interesting, but I don't see how cow leather is "unsustainable". Isn't cowhide just a byproduct of the enormous beef industry? This doesn't seem to be that useful, at least until they figure out how to grow beef in a factory from cell cultures.

However, for things like alligator/crocodile hides, this seems like it could be really useful. Maybe they could also figure out how to grow hides with hair on them, to put the fur industry out of business.

  • chickenimprint 15 days ago

    A profitable byproduct shifts down the supply curve, leading to a greater market equilibrium. That doesn't mean we shouldn't use it, but we should be cognizant of the fact that in a world without leather, there would be less cattle farming. We can therefore unequivocally say that leather is not environmentally friendly.

    The best world would have leather, but also its externalities priced in.

    • midoridensha 12 days ago

      >but we should be cognizant of the fact that in a world without leather, there would be less cattle farming.

      I don't see how you can reach this conclusion. No one kills cows for their skin: they're killed for their meat. The leather is just a byproduct of this. Cow leather isn't even all that great, compared to some other animals' hides (goats for instance). So if the beef industry evaporated, I don't see how anyone would pay big bucks for cow skins when they can get fake leather at the low end, or other nicer leathers at the high end.

  • Bayart 15 days ago

    > Isn't cowhide just a byproduct of the enormous beef industry?

    It is. Even more so, leather quality is inversely proportional to the degree of industrialization of meat production. That is to say if your cows aren't free of mechanical implements that can injure them and of parasites, the leather you're getting out of it is worthless.

  • qbrass 15 days ago

    Wait until leather made out of the cloned skin of famous people becomes a thing.

  • stjohnswarts 15 days ago

    If we can grow lab beef and lab leather why do we need more than a few "sample" cows to get the initial cell lines?