The Environmental Significance of Fish Leather Production
Iceland is situated directly on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and the Eurasian plate spread two millimeters every month. This phenomena creates a massive amount of energy with steaming holes, hot water springs and firey volcanoes.
Do Icelanders have a special attitude towards sustainability and the environment?
Vignir: Yes. We live in a harsh climate; we have learned to make use of all the resources available to us. It is an historic part of the Icelandic identity.
What makes the production of fish leather sustainable?
Vignir: Fish skins have been a waste product of the fishing industry for over a hundred years. We have found a way to give these waste products value.
What about the all the water required for colouring and tanning?
Silla: Iceland's geothermal activity means that there is a natural supply of hot water flowing everywhere on the island; we simply take advantage of this. We use the most advanced technology to filter the water in order to be able to reuse it and again. The pressure of the water generates enough electricity to run the whole factory. Basically, we have a zero energy production.
Your tannery has recently succeeded in tanning fish skins with Mimosa?
Silla: Mimosa is a vegetable tanning treatment for fish skins. Mimosatanned leather is really special, it takes on a beautiful colour from the tree.
Why is a sustainable product important?
Silla: It's unbelievable that a little factory and town like ours has not only
found a way to create high end luxury leather for big fashion houses, but has
done it in a way that is ethical. That's really tremendously important for us.
Not just for us and our town, but for the whole of Iceland.
We are the only tannery left in the country. It is essential to show that we have the techniques, resources and researchers to preserve the environment while at the same time impacting in a real way on the fashion industry. We want to raise awareness about environmental issues in general.