Last month, Peta sent a letter to David Schembri, president of Smart USA, informing him that his company is contradicting itself if it considers its Smart Passion models to be environmentally friendly. The problem is not the fuel mileage or emissions, but the fact that the vehicle includes leather seats. According to PETA, leather is harmful to the environment, but more importantly to them, it requires killing cows. According to PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk, "Smart can't have it both ways: touting its cars as eco-friendly and then plastering them with toxic and Earth-degrading leather."
Detroit News bloggers have chimed in regarding this issue, with Eric Morath quoting Rodney Hammond, vice president and general manager at Seton Co, as saying, "When you think about it, leather is the ultimate recycled material. You don't grow cows for the skin, you do it for the beef or the dairy. We take what would otherwise be waste and turn it into a beautiful, luxurious product." Hammond's company is an automotive supplier that makes leather interiors. Manny Lopez considers leather "green and practical," while Scott Burgess suggests switching to hemp and reminds us that some automakers have begun using bio-fabrics. In any case, leather interiors are not likely to go anywhere soon, but perhaps the industry could take a deeper look at the chromium-free tanning process that Lincoln was touting on their MKR concept.
[Source: PETA, Detroit News]