I try to do my part to ensure that my products are as earth friendly as possible.

Choosing vegetable tanned hides
Wickett & Craig of America

Many years ago, when I was teaching an environmental science class at the Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville, NY, I researched the history of leather tanning in the US in general and the Catskill Mountains of New York in particular. At the turn of the last century great fortunes were made tanning leather in Sullivan County and the surrounding area using domestic and South American hides and the bark of the local hemlock trees. Civil War historians have noted that one of the great advantages of the Union troops is that its cavalry had benefit of harness made of leather from the Catskills. Vegetable tanning uses tannic acid from natural sources and produces leather that is extraordinarily durable. In addition, this leather can be carved, tooled and molded. It will hold it's shape and resist fire. For this reason, fire captains' helmets are to this day made of vegetable tanned leather. While it produces a fine product, the process is expensive and time consuming. In pursuit of profit, tanners developed quicker processes using chromium salts that made softer leather better suited to items such as gloves and apparel. These tanneries centered on Fulton County, west of Albany. At its height, this area had over three hundred tanneries and was considered a major world supplier of finished leather. Unfortunately, the environmental history of this industry was not the best and the ill effect of tanning, particularly on water, was documented in Jonathan Harr's book, "A Civil Action". Countless tanneries closed their doors because they could not adapt to the more rigorous environmental regulations of today.

It is important to me that the leathers I use have minimum negative impact on the environment. In addition, I only use leather sourced from non-threatened species and processed in a responsible way. Much of the leather I use is vegetable tanned using modern technology to improve the traditional approach. Once they have done their work converting hides to useable leather, the tanning solutions that are organically derived (vegetable tanning) are actually processed into fertilizer. I seek to maximize the use of this type of leather and, when other types are called for, I investigate to ensure that environmental needs are considered. In this way, I try to do my part to ensure that my products are as earth friendly as possible.