365 days ago I stopped eating meat and dairy and cooked food but I’m not an ethical raw vegan so I didn’t stop wearing leather. I like leather handbags in particular. And throughout the year I have continued to wear them.
In fact I bought one in September last year when I was 23 days raw. It was a 14in teal leather satchel from the Cambridge Satchel Company and I wore it every day until late June when the strap broke mid commute.
I picked it up from the train floor and awkwardly carried it around by the handle for the rest of the day. The next morning I swapped it for one of my many alternatives (I could actually wear a different bag every day for a month), my big boxy red Knoma but it proved unsuitable for underarm carriage on the tube (I kept knocking people when I turned) and too heavy to carry in the crook of my elbow. My black strapless Kenneth Cole travel bag presented the same problems.
So then I took down my shiny emerald blue leather bucket bag. But after a day’s commute I realized that I didn’t want to ruin its soft leather finish by subjecting it to daily wear and tear on the tube network and First Great Western trains. I then turned to an old favourite; the big-floppy-brown-sack bag.
And then I got tired of trying to find my phone, travel card and keys in the volume of its darkness so I phoned up the Cambridge Satchel Company to see what they’d say about the malfunctioning mechanism on the strap.
‘Bring it in,’ the store manager said ‘with your proof of purchase.’
‘Really,’ I said, ‘the bags are embossed with your company logo and you still need me to bring in the receipt’.
But she was insistent. This presented a problem. I only keep receipts until I’m safely out of the shop sans accusations of theft but eventually I managed to hunt down a credit card statement.
Despite this inconvenience I was otherwise very impressed with their customer service. I only wanted my strap fixed, which was free of charge, but I was offered a brand new summer season satchel in a variety of shades as an alternative. That is great service; wear your bag for a year and then get a free upgrade.
But here’s the thing, where previously the thought of a new leather handbag would have my glands salivating and my pulse racing; my biological response was absent. The rainbow coloured bags shelved up and down on the walls of the store held no appeal. I have no idea what had triggered this internal shift (or indeed when it had occurred): I am still comfortable wearing leather but I am no longer comfortable buying new leather.
But I do know that the longer I am raw the more of a conscious consumer I become. I’ve overhauled the products I use in my hair and on my skin and I’ve rejected Dettol and Mr Muscle for a lemon squeezed in a spray bottle. So it isn’t really surprising that I’m now questioning my reliance on leather.