Edwards urged to ditch leather furniture

Dear Ms. Edwards:

Welcome to the world of furniture sales! As president of Carol House Furniture -- the largest independent furniture retailer in Missouri, with 140 employees and approximately $30 million in annual sales -- I know the business well. I am also a longtime member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than 2 million members and supporters. In 2003, after 40 years of selling leather-upholstered products, I decided to institute a leather-free policy because of the extreme environmental and animal welfare problems inherent in leather production. In 2004, after making no other significant changes, our sales volume went up by approximately 4 percent. Since then, we've done well, and our customers love the affordability, durability, cleaning properties, feel, and wide variety of the nonleather fabrics that we offer. To show your commitment to the environment and to animals' well-being, will you consider adopting a leather-free policy at Red Window?

Leather is not at all "green," even when it's dyed that color. Tannery runoff has a terrible impact on waterways and wildlife, and leather tanning is linked to respiratory infections, certain types of cancer, and other illnesses among tannery workers and people who live near tannery sites. Leather is made from the remains of living animals, so harsh chemicals must be used to stop it from decomposing. These chemicals include formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and cyanide-based oils, dyes, and finishes. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that the process used to manufacture chrome-tanned leather, which is commonly sold in the U.S., produces hazardous wastes. But the environmental destruction associated with leather production is just part of the story. Just like dogs and cats, animals killed for leather and meat are feeling individuals who suffer tremendously when they're confined to small spaces and deprived of all that is natural and important to them. Cows, pigs, and other factory-farmed animals are often mutilated -- they suffer in agony as workers cut their testicles, teeth, and horns off without using anesthesia. Investigations have documented that animals who are killed for their skin and flesh are often dismembered while they are still conscious and able to feel pain.

For the sake of the environment and animals, I urge you to make Red Window a leather-free store. I know from experience that this compassionate decision would also make great business sense. I'm happy to recommend products that we've had success with. Thank you for your consideration, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Brook Dubman

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