Sheong Shi Tannery, Kolkata, India
The tannery in Kolkata, India where “our“ leather comes from and where the eco-learning process was developed. The tannery is one of a kind, unique! The eco-leather is regularly tested by the SGS, to check if really no harmful chemicals and heavy metals are used. Furthermore we also check on a list of 15 items, such as the use of recycled water (from the rain in the rain season), the local origins of the skin and....the living conditions of the animals.
Some years ago, all the tanneries had to leave the city of Kolkata due to the high levels of pollution in the city. An opportunity for Patrick & Veronica Lee to follow their hearts and create a new tannery. This tannery is heated by the sun, collects rain water for dry periods and has a beautiful garden at the center of their building.
Ecologically tanned leather; a revolutionary process. Fair Trade Europe, our leather manufacturers and Hans Both came out here to experiment with natural resources to tan the leather. Especially in places like India with so many hungry people, there must be “business“ for such a new concept. Goodforall is very happy that the success of MYPAPERBAG could make a contribution. After two years of trying and testing with the team that had bundled their powers, great strides have been made. The heavy metals have been taken out of the process, as well as other harmful chemicals.
In addition, we look at the use of water, electricity and the origin of the hides. The difficult part of the process was the first part, where the fresh hides were treated with copper and other heavy metals. In all Goodforall leather this part has been replaced by a treatment with natural preservatives only. This new process is environmentally friendly and harmless to the planet. Further in the conventional process, the copper is scraped off the skins and spread over the land as fertilizer (..!) In the fields, you can see blue peaks that ends up in the water and over the land where vegetables are grown.
We are so happy that Goodforall does not use this conventional leather and we're very proud that Goodforall ONLY uses ecologically tanned leather! It is wonderful to see that our eco-leather looks the same, feels the same and is well preserved. So we can keep our aim in making beautiful products very much alive!
Where do the animals come from and how did they live?
This question has been posed a number of times and is reason enough to have an interview with Patrick Lee. The skins come from two types of cattle – the first is when they die of natural causes like illness or old age, and the second is from cattle working the land. A farmer in India often has cows as opposed to tractors, at a certain moment the cow becomes too old and expensive to care for. The farmers must primarily feed their families, and sell the cow to the slaughter house and the skins go directly to the tannery. A good life?
In the first booklets that we added to the products, Marja (founder of Goodforall) was extremely enthusiastic about the cows and that they have had a dignified life. After some hesitation, Irani Sen of CRC informed her that they had quite a laugh about this! "Those foreigners and their concern about he animals! They are so concerned about the cattle, but what about the people? Do they have enough to eat?!"
This was a good lesson and reminded us to face the facts on how the circumstances differ in other parts of the world.