Faux leather promoted by 'ethical designers' like Stella McCartney is polluting the oceans with plastic, BBC expert says

While many who buy faux leather often think of themselves as ethical buyers, the material could be polluting the oceans and killing fish, according to a BBC expert.

Patrick Grant, creative director of Saville Row tailors Norton & Sons, said ‚ethical‘ designers like Stella McCartney who promote the use of plastic alternatives to leather are causing micro-plastics to enter our water systems.

The Great British Sewing Bee host said the designer is helping make man-made fibres fashionable, which could cause pollution.

„Eighteen years ago, she  had been telling people to switch from leather to polyurethane and now the fish have it inside them,“ he told the Daily Mail.

Grant, who studied materials science at the University of Leeds, suggested: „Maybe we should eat less meat, but we do eat meat, so we might as well use the hides of the cows we eat rather than kill our fish.“

Although the designer uses high-end materials, he worries that she has made these fibres fashionable for cheaper brands to use. 

He explained: „Stella McCartney’s business is her business and almost certainly Stella is using the very best alternatives, but the problem is that all the people that have seen what she’s doing have copied her and polyurethane has taken off as an alternative to leather. But it is bad s***: the way it’s made and the way it doesn’t biodegrade.“

In response to the problem of micropollution, campaigners have asked consumers to buy better-quality clothing for long-term use, rather than taking part in the „fast fashion“ trend.

Friends of the Earth plastic campaigner, Emma Priestland said: “It’s been estimated that clothes washing causes 1,600 tonnes of plastic micropollution to be washed into UK rivers and oceans every year.

“With so many people realising the harm that both leather and plastic can have on our planet, maybe the leather-look has finally had its day?

“And of course we can all help by choosing good quality clothing that we wear for years – not just months.”

A Stella McCartney spokesperson responded to the criticism, claiming the vast majority of the microfibres found in the ocean are caused by shedding which happens in washing machines – and that this does not apply to their faux leather products as they are not machine washable.