Spotted a couple interesting things today while on a run downtown (not counting the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge).

Thing 1:

An urban farm in Battery Park! The goals of the Battery Conservancy include education, providing local, organic food, and bringing the community together. The farm seems like an active place during the warmer months, but alas, it was empty and quiet today.

Thing b:

I passed a shoe store window, and a sign for Alden shoes caught my attention. Can you guess why?

The Alden web site describes the superior Shell Cordovan leather of which their shoes are made, with no mention of horses. Hmm. Here‘s some interesting info on the use of horse leather in the US: the leather must come from horses that died from natural causes; horse hide makes strong, durable, waterproof leather; all horse leather produced in the US comes from a single company, Horween.

On a non-HP-related note, the memorial at the World Trade Center site looks like it’ll be amazing, whenever it’s finally finished. I hadn’t really followed the plan, but two giant reflecting pools with waterfalls will sit in the original footprints of the two towers. See details here.

Avoiding beef vs. enjoying leather

Leather is a by-product of the beef industry, right? It comes from cows that have already been slaughtered for meat, doesn’t it?

Or maybe not. Action For Our Planet says the big cattle factory farms and slaughterhouses make up to half their profits from leather, so when you buy leather goods, you are supporting companies that practice inhumane treatment. Care2 Causes tells that more and more leather goods sold in the US are made from leather produced in China and India, where animal welfare laws are non-existent or unenforced. In Defense of Animals has a similar argument.

What’s a responsible consumer to do? Fortunately there are many synthetic leather-like materials on the market today, which are generally easier to care for than leather.

Here are a few good sites for vegan shoe, bag, and accessory shopping:

Alternative Outfitters: mens’ and womens’ shoes; bags; accessories

Moo Shoes: mens’ and womens’ shoes; bags; belts; wallets

Zappos Vegan: vegan shoes for the family, and other eco-friendly products (some of which contain leather, so be careful if you’re trying to avoid it completely)

Happy humane shopping!