Vegetable tanning, also known as bark tanning, is an ancient method of creating durable, water repellent leather. It´s a very slow and mild tanning that gives the leather a unique colour that will get darker and darker with time. It has a perfect surface in a way that only nature can make it, and it needs no dying. Vegetable tannins used to be the standard before chrome and other minerals became the most common tanning agents. Actually the earliest known example of vegetable tanning comes from Gebelein Egypt, a tannery thought to be over 5000 years old.
Modern tannery chemicals and wastewater have a toxic effect on the environment and our ecosystems. The tanning process involves chemical such as chromium III, lead, and arsenic, it also uses large quantities of water. Fortunately, vegetable tanning is back in fashion. Bear in mind though that a lot of what is referred to as “non-chrome” tanning today is using synthetic tanning agents that may be as environmentally hazardous as minerals. Some leathers are even labelled as “vegetable tanned” but have actually been pre-tanned with mineral or synthetic tanning agents, before being vegetable tanned.