How can you tell if someone's a vegan? You don't need to - they'll tell you. (I'm allowed to say that. I'm vegan. See?) Anyway, let me put down my almond milk latte and move my falafel wrap to one side, because there is exciting news in not just the anti-meat camp, but also the general 'saving the planet' gang as a whole. Volvo has now committed to taking "an ethical stand for animal welfare" within its electric cars and will now only offer leather-free interiors.
It's not the first brand to offer vegan leather alternatives; JLR jumped on that bandwagon a little while back. But to combine a hide choice with the added atmosphere-saving benefit of an EV has a nicer ring to it than when accompanied by a gas-guzzling Velar.
The press release does churn out some appropriate buzz-wordy explanations, such as "livestock is estimated to be responsible for around 14 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, with the majority coming from cattle farming," but however cynical you may be about the impact Volvo's announcement will make on that statistic, you have to appreciate the commitment to making the change.
Instead of leather, materials will consist of fabrics made from recycled items such as plastic bottles and will feature cork as a surface finish. Wool will also continue to be used, but only from certified responsible suppliers. Volvo is keen to recognise that some non-cow seat covers aren't going to make the interior fully vegan, so it's also looking towards sustainable and environmentally friendly ways of producing plastics, rubber and adhesives, whether in the material or during the chemical production process.
"Finding products and materials that support animal welfare will be challenging, but that is no reason to avoid this important issue," said Stuart Templar, Volvo's Director of Global Sustainability. "This is a journey worth taking. Having a truly progressive and sustainable mindset means we need to ask ourselves difficult questions and actively try to find answers."
There are many arguments to be had about the cons of electric-car production versus the pros of buying a used petrol model, but it's nice to acknowledge the small steps the automotive industry is making to try and keep the cars we love on the road. Now, kale and asparagus smoothie, anyone?
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