A photo essay that shows how and where we produce skins for the famous brands

Hazaribagh, a former district in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is known worldwide as one of the centers of manufacturing of leather largest on the planet. Reporters from Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organization for the protection of human rights around the world, prepared a report to fund by counting the process.

Great.guru tells you today how are products made of leather most of the fashion brands most recognized, leading celebrities, and we buy many of us.

The skin of Hazaribagh is present in the articles of the best luxury brands in 70 countries of the world

This is the main source of employment in the country. The great demand in Western leather goods caused a large number of tanneries should be concentrated in such a small territory. And this production area continues to attract more and more migrants from the rural world that they live in the slums of the city, which is already full of itself.

During 10 years, from 2002 to 2012, the annual export of articles of leather increased by 41 million USD per year and continues to grow. This leather is exported to a total of 70 countries such as China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, Spain and the united States, among others.

Italy is the largest importer: purchase leather for an amount approximate annual 85 million USD per year.

In his manufacturing work children

Reporters of the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch interviewed children, the youngest of whom was 11 years old. The children work in dangerous places: put the skins soaked in chemicals, cutting tanned leather with blades and handle factory dangerous, for example, hot objects for pressing the skin.

In the image, one of the young workers.

The volume of production continues to grow, but the method of skin treatment harmful have not been modified in the last 100 years

While the production of skins has increased significantly, the methods of manufacture of the leather during 100 years have not changed a whit: the factories employ a combination of 40 different types of metals and acids to treat skin raw. To tan them in order, continues to be used a solution of hexavalent chromium, which causes cancer. This process allows the skin to become a durable material, hardly degradable, and resistant to moisture and sunlight.

The chromium reacts with the collagen and acquires a blue colour.

Many tanneries do not provide to their employees or aprons, or gloves, or protective equipment. There is also no modes of purification prescribed, does not form to the workers to learn to correctly manipulate these dangerous chemicals and do not renew their outdated equipment.

The employees put in to soak the skin to soften it, in the face of its subsequent processing, which includes dye it, and manufacture products such as shoes, handbags, belts and clothing.

The skin soaked and treated with chemicals is smoothed and dried in the sun for several days.

After it is graded, trimmed, smoothed and folded.

The material then passes through a process of “duplication”, for which they use special machines. The skin, mouth, top, and bottom are cut to match the thickness of the material along its entire length. The remains will be used later in another process to convert them in suede.

In the picture, a man is cooking, the waste of the manufacture, which will serve to feed the animals. Are we to suppose that the flesh of these animals, later, will also become food.

The employees work 7 days a week for only 37 USD per month

Jahaj is 17 years old, works in a tannery since she was 12. He works 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the charge of remuneration 37 USD per month.

What you like least is to work in areas where they are put to soak the raw materials, in a kind of hole-square of about 4 meters. “The water in this area contains acids that burn if they touch my skin. But when I’m hungry, acid doesn’t matter; I need to eat,” he says.

Itchy, peeling, acid burns, rashes, discolored skin and aging prematurely, are some of the most common effects caused by the toxic effects generated by working with this type of raw material.

Jahaj suffered from a number of accidents: once stepped on one of the nails with which to attach the skins to your drying on the scaffolds, another is pulled back while wearing heavy furs.

Until it was trapped inside a large rotating drum, used to save the skins. These drums have a sort of spikes in its interior, in order to avoid twisting the skins. Passed two minutes, the drum was switched off, but your body, as well as his head and back, was full of bruises.

Due to obsolete methods of production and improper disposal, suffers both the environment and the people

Due to inadequate methods to remove waste from the tannery, which just end up getting burned, the people breathe that smoke and the air of the city is clearly contaminated. In addition, it produces a horrible smell of rot everywhere. It is curious that the word “Hazaribagh” is translated as “the city of a thousand gardens”, well it seems like a farce.

In the image, a worker carries a basket of residues of tanning to burning.

Employees and their families live in small rooms located right there in the area where you installed the tanneries, very close to the flow of wastewater that comes from the drains of these companies. The contaminated water simply flows through the streets, the canals of the city, merging with the river Buriganga.

The Buriganga river is home to the remains of rotted flesh of animals, sulfuric acid, formic acid, chromium, lead, ammonia, and this is just what that release the tanneries, without counting the waste of factories, waste water, domestic waste and oil. So, it receives 4,500 tons of solid waste daily, out of which, 21.600 liters are toxic.

The river is a thick, sticky dough and black. Biologically, he was recognized as dead for a long time. Nearly 4 million people are exposed to the impact of this polluted water on a daily basis.

One of the inhabitants of the city, Ashor, he confessed: “I’m afraid to drink tap water-it erodes the tin corrugated in only 6 months”.

Their inhabitants are too poor, can not receive quality medical care and the owners of the tanneries are unaware at the time of pay for sick leave or compensation for the injury caused in the performance of their work, showing a total disregard for the well-being of their citizens, always and when the business get benefits.

In the image, a room where lives a family of workers. Surprisingly, despite these circumstances, some people are able to smile.

What will be in the future?

The government proposed to 155 tanneries from Hazaribagh to help pay for the costs of relocation of production to the outskirts of Dhaka, according to a resolution taken by the Supreme Court in 2009. But until now, only 43 of them complied with the requirement. Enterprises are fined with 10 thousand taka bangladeshi the day (around 120 us dollars) for damage caused to the environment until they moved their manufacturing to Savar in compliance with the new regulations for the manufacture of leather.

Who will pay these fines? Despite all the measures, the production only increases, and those who follow sufriéndolo are simple people.

To compare: this makes the leather so natural in Marrakech

In the other point of the world, in Marrakech, we found the traditional production of leather of the berbers, the indigenous population of north Africa. Here, the people are hard working and under a burning sun, as in Bangladesh. However, the way in which it was manufactured, the skin is completely natural, in contrast with the production dangerous under the chemical substances described above. This met thanks to the businessman and blogger Alexei Zabolotny.

The skins are put to soak for 3 to 6 days, first in a solution of bird droppings, dogs or mixed with water to soften the material. Subsequently, during 20 to 30 days, in a solution of lime with water to remove the remains of the meat and to facilitate the removal of hair and other. Of course, the stench is horrible.

After this process, the trainees retire to hand the remains of animal hair that are left on the skin.

The tanning occurs with vegetable substances: extracts of different types of trees. For a soaking uniform, the concentration of the extract gradually increases. Subsequently, start the process of descaling: the skin becomes soaked with clean water, sometimes with the addition of lime. Then, it is dried, smoothed and pressed.

To dye them, we also use natural dyes such as carmine, turmeric, saffron or paprika. Finally, the skin gets the glow after soaking in a solution of water, egg white and flax seed oil.

The leather resulting is purchased and used in manufacturing by most of the famous brands of clothing and shoes from all over the world

In the picture, the Italian masters of the factory of leather Pierotucci, Florence, made handbags of skin.

“If all the leather goods that are manufactured in Italy were actually made there, the streets would be full of cows that drank water of the Fontana di Trevi” laughs Lucy Siegle, a fighter for a life without leather products.

Some of the clothing brands most popular in the world, such as Forever 21 and Michael Kors, were forced to hide their accounts due to information about their supply chains.

According to a report that delves into the transparency of the clothing brands, the world’s leading companies in garments of high-end, such as Prada, Fendi, Hermes, and Chanel, buy materials manufactured on the basis of the violation of ecological standards of production and social norms.

What we would be able to reject the articles of leather of this kind to stop the industrial exploitation of nature and of human beings? The author of this article usually buy leather shoes because of their durability and still do not see prospects of finding a replacement worthy. And what do you think? Expónlo openly in the comments.

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