Hell For Leather – investigating the leather industry in Bangladesh

| 1st June 2008
Must-have handbags? shoes to die for? From cheap trinkets to luxury car interiors, Jim Wickens discovers the startling facts behind what we buy into when we buy leather goods

Driving into the secretive alleyways of Hazaribagh, the first thing to hit you is the stench. A putrid cocktail of rotting flesh intermingled with nose-numbingly sharp tanning chemicals hangs in the air.

Tens of thousands of people toil here every day, living, breathing and dying amid a deadly mix of hundreds of chemicals pumped out by the leather tanneries that operate here.

It is a world made of leather. Barefoot children collect strips of it; chickens nest in it; babies play in it – even the cooking fuel here is made from it: toxic, dried blue strips of aldehyde- and chrome-treated leather that burns ferociously in every household stove.

To read the full investigation, click here.

More from this author


The Ecologist has a formidable reputation built on fifty years of investigative journalism and compelling commentary from writers across the world. Now, as we face the compound crises of climate breakdown, biodiversity collapse and social injustice, the need for rigorous, trusted and ethical journalism has never been greater. This is the moment to consolidate, connect and rise to meet the challenges of our changing world. The Ecologist is owned and published by the Resurgence Trust. Support The Resurgence Trust from as little as £1. Thank you. Donate now.