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Nappa leather and environmentalism

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by kevincwelch, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. kevincwelch

    kevincwelch Active Member

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    I'm not exactly sure how to word this, but I have a feeling I know where my wife is going when she asked me about the leather seats.

    The environmental aspects of the Model S, of course, cannot escape us since it is "zero" emissions. So it does attract a certain cohort of people who have environmental concerns.

    What can be said of the manufacturing process of the Nappa leather interior? Presumably sheep -- raised/farmed how? Treated with chromium?

    Info on Tesla's relationship with dealers would be appreciated. THanks.
     
  2. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

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    Leather is a renewable resource.
     
  3. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    The problem with leather is the chemicals that are used in the tanning process are rather toxic. It's not the cowhide itself that's the problem.
     
  4. steve841

    steve841 Active Member

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    Short of living in a tree house in the forest, every aspect of modern life is a drain and/or harmful on/to the environment.

    Anyone serious about saving the planet needs to not have more than one child and advocate for same.... Otherwise, the clock is ticking.
     
  5. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

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    Energy-wise, man-made fibers can be extremely expensive to produce; but much worse is the inability to recycle things like nylon, not to mention poor bio-degradability.
     
  6. Andrew Wolfe

    Andrew Wolfe Roadster 472 - S 440

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    What happened to good ol' tannic acid from oak trees? :crying:
     
  7. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

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    Or vegetable tanning for that matter.

    (P.S. Interesting subject, but I'm starting to wonder what this has to do with Model S specifically)
     
  8. kevincwelch

    kevincwelch Active Member

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    Well, it was a thought about what goes into the Model S production. Its specificity to the Model S is the option to have Nappa leather seats, of course. I suppose it could have gone in the general discussion forum...
     
  9. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

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    ^ I was trying to get back to the relevance in your OP; I think you've raised an interesting point but from the rubber on the tires, to the aluminium body, to paint and plastics, I'm not sure that there can ever be such a thing as an environmentally friendly car. It's just about how minimal can we keep the impact. For many it will be about plastics for some it's about animals (my sister is a vegetarian and can't bear to get in a car with real leather seats).

    Personally, I'm accepting that I need a car but then I'll insist on it being an EV.
     
  10. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    Different tanning processes have different environmental impacts. The chromium tanning process generates highly toxic pollutants that, unless managed, have strong adverse impacts on the environment where the tanning occurs (see this article, e.g.). Just as some people are willing to pay a premium for "fair trade" coffee or sustainably harvested wood, people might be happier with the Model S if they knew that the leather was tanned responsibly.
     
  11. SwedishAdvocate

    SwedishAdvocate Active Member

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    So does anybody know? Can something based on synthetic fibers have less of an environmental impact than a natural material? I.e., what is the best alternative from an environmental standpoint for the interior in the Model S (Assuming there is leather from animals available for the interior, and you aren’t going to rule out leather based on your morals)?

    Standard Textile, Nappa Leather or Nappa Leather with Alcantara Accents?
     
  12. kevincwelch

    kevincwelch Active Member

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    No, I knew what you were intending. :)

    I think that's what my wife was trying to tease out: how much of the car is environmentally "responsible." I agree; I don't think you can have a 100% green car. As you've stated, the lack of emissions is the biggest factor right now for me.

    Thanks for the article.

    I couldn't discern from your last sentence whether anyone knew how the leather was tanned or whether it was purchased through fair trade agreements since Nappa leather does often come from third world countries.

    Yes! Now that you state this, I recall that our question came out of a discussion about whether to get the textile seats or the leather seats. It would be interesting to speculate on the impact on the environment the textile seat manufacture process has versus the impact deforestation/grazing/harvesting/tanning/etc. has for the production of leather products.

    I'm not being super environmental here. I also don't like feeling conflicted about things either. My eventual answer will be as NigelM has suggested: the lack of emissions will be the big environmental selling point.
     
  13. Andrew Wolfe

    Andrew Wolfe Roadster 472 - S 440

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    Also - I assume people know that Alcantara is basically polyester (and not an exotic South American mammal:smile:).

    In any case, I'll bet the analysis depends on whether you include the environmental cost of raising the cow or just assume that the skin is a byproduct of other cow production. Cows are basically an environmental disaster.
     
  14. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    As far as I know, no one knows the tanning process used to make Tesla's Nappa leather. The chromium process appears to me to be the most commonly used, so it's assumed that is used until we get official confirmation that it's a greener process.

    As far as tires go, Nokian and Yokohama are pioneering (separately) low aromatic oils used in the tire compounds (Yokohama uses orange oil and started a couple of years ago, Nokian doesn't say what type of oil but they started several years ago--maybe ten).

    As far as I know the two main pollutants of modern cars are the the internal combustion engine and the tires. Everything else is minor compared to those two items so getting rid of the internal combustion engine is the single most important thing that can be done to reduce pollution. Things like batteries are highly recyclable so they are pretty green (even the lead acid kind). Tires can be recycled but for a tire recycling plant you need a stream of 500,000+ tires per day over several years to make it profitable--so there are only a few places where tire recycling is done.
     
  15. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    For the extremists...

    Probably best to contact your Tesla rep and tell them you want to provide the seats yourself. I'm sure you can find plenty of "prepaid environmental impact" seats at your local junkyard. You'll likely have to sign a waiver that you are aware that the official crash safety ratings will not apply and your insurance will probably go up as well. But both are a small price to pay for the "Prius smug" smile you get for saving the planet, right?
     
  16. steve841

    steve841 Active Member

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    No disrespect to the green crowd.... But that's funny as hell.
     
  17. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    I also think that's very funny. It illustrates the hypocrisy of extreme environmentalism. I was tuned in environmentally until California put MTBE into the gas. For those that don't know, MTBE is an additive, like Ethanol, that allows gasoline to burn 15% cleaner. The problem was that it didn't burn efficiently: 15% less efficient to be exact. For you math whizzes out there that means that means the end result is that you gained nothing. Oh, there was one more thing that came from MTBE, it polluted the water table. All brought to the state of California in the name of environmentalism. To bring this back to Tesla - are they perfectly green? No. I consider that a good thing - less hypocritical. I'm going to buy a Tesla because it's an EV and better for the environment than a gas car.
     
  18. Jason S

    Jason S Model S Sig Perf (P85)

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    Alcantara is a synthetic as well, so maybe get the performance version to piss off everybody?

    Textile is probably the lowest impact one when you include transportation costs into the equations.

    When you get down to the finer details you'll have a larger impact by choosing long tread-wear 19" tires instead of 21" tires.
     
  19. SByer

    SByer '08 #383

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    So, what we need is a LEED scorecard for cars?

    Google recently retrofitted one of it's buildings. The people responsible were determined to eliminate upstream toxic chemical usage. Turns out, that's surprisingly hard - so many manufacturers just don't track those things, certainly not upstream from themselves. Took a lot of extra time to get enough of the tracking and accountability systems in place to actually accomplish this. Campus Operations – Google Green
     
  20. Zextraterrestrial

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    zero kids here!

    just chickens and 2 dogs ( makes up for the 2kids + shorter lifespans)
    but eggs are super bomb! ( egg bases dog farts too!! +1)

    I don't know what they sell people in the stores (not good eggs) or what they give the chicks to eat



    to the post below... driving can not be environmentally positive (EVER)
    just walk.... animals are amazing
    ( and all of the other species too!!!)

    and 'need' is a really strong word eh
    there is a lot that is very unnecessary
     

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