Good PR, bad PR2 May 2001
In the week before the Hong Kong fair, a British television programme aimed at teenagers quoted huge chunks of the inaccurate and unfair PETA accusations which they have levelled against the leather industry. Worse, the programme actually included the sentiment: 'if we had less desire for leather there would be more cows in the fields.' The truth is, you cannot throw hides and skins away like garbage. They would create a huge health hazard. The leather industry should be credited with the fact that it takes an otherwise unwanted byproduct from the meat industry and converts it into a useful and saleable product. The world needs leather. Leather's very own Sam Setter, who writes Lime Blast each month, was invited to address the annual meeting of the International Council of Tanners which took place the day before the APLF opened its doors. His subject was how to combat the success with which PETA had got their argurments across versus the almost total inability of the leather industry to counter their claims. Since Sam prefers to remain incognito - he earns his living in the industry - it fell to me to deliver his speech. Sam believes that the leather industry collectively has poor PR. If you search the internet you will easily find pornography and animal rights activists. What you won't find is the leather industry promoting itself and countering arguments that they are a polluting, smelly industry with blood on its hands. Sam says: 'I won't say that the leather industry has not been guilty of misbehaviour. We have heavily polluted the environment and in many countries we still do, but we have been amongst the very first industries to get their act together. Huge sums of money have been successfully invested to make our industry environment friendly. We can be proud of ourselves. 'All of us know the facts, but the public does not. We have never told the public that this industry is a main player in keeping the environment clean by processing material, the hides and skins recovered from the meat industry, that could become hazardous to public health if left unprocessed. 'The fact that our industry does not reach out to the public is not clever at all.'