Gilmore Girls producer Gavin Polone and Emmy-winning sports editor Derek Ambrosi have joined forces together to create a short film that calls on sportswear giant Nike to ditch kangaroo leather from its production.
According to PETA, kangaroos are slaughtered in the millions every year, with their skins being used to make football shoes. Although the Australian government requires that hunters shoot the animals, orphaned joeys and wounded adults are decapitated or hit sharply on the head ‘to destroy the brain’ with them becoming victims of the largest commercial slaughter of land-based wildlife on the planet.
After learning about these cruel killing methods, football star David Beckham switched to shoes made from synthetic materials and Adidas stopped using kangaroo skin for most of its shoes in 2012. However, footwear brand Nike continues to use kangaroo leather in its shoe production.
Produced in collaboration with the Centre for a Humane Economy (CHE), the film forms part of a global campaign to urge Nike to end its role in the killing of two million wild kangaroos for its football boots each year.
Backed by Hollywood, this film aims to raise awareness about the cruel trade and call for change by banning the use of kangaroo leather altogether. Running at 60-seconds long, the film makes use of reverse sequencing where it begins with a football player’s boot kicking a ball into a goal. Then, it chronologically looks back through the retail supply chain and manufacturing process, to the Australian wildlands where kangaroos are shot and stripped of their skin.
Polone explains why the film is necessary to expose Nike’s truth. “I wanted to expose the bloody truth that’s being hidden from well-intentioned consumers who may have no idea how their ‘K-leather’ shoes are being made. Nike can no longer hide their responsibility for this atrocity.”
I wanted to expose the bloody truth that’s being hidden from well-intentioned consumers who may have no idea how their ‘K-leather’ shoes are being made. Nike can no longer hide their responsibility for this atrocityGavin Polone, creator of the film
Australian politician Mark Pearson highlights that with Hollywood backing a film like this, it will hopefully spark a change in the leather industry. “It’s fantastic to see Hollywood heavyweights getting behind the plight of the kangaroo because they urgently need help. A lot of people don’t even know that kangaroo populations are declining, let alone that Australia kills its own national emblem for profit.”
Wayne Pacelle, President of the Center for a Humane Economy stressed that though the Nike officials are not pulling the trigger, they might as well be. “Using spotlights and night-vision rifle scopes, hired guns to kill entire kangaroo families in the dead of night so they can sell the skins to the world’s best-known athletic shoe company. We’re no longer making hats from herons and egrets, we no longer decorate our living rooms with ivory trinkets, and we shouldn’t wear athletic shoes made from the skins of kangaroos. There’s just no need for it. Every one of these companies already sells football cleats made from fabrics not stripped from the backs and bodies of wildlife.”
Sports stars are giving their support to the campaign, including Dotsie Bausch, Olympic cycling medallist; Heather Mitts Feeley, football gold medallist; and David Verburg, track and field gold medallist. Bausch said: “We don’t treat sports as a cordoned-off enterprise set apart from the rest of the world and its swirl of social concerns. That means we care about the things we wear, the supply chain that allows them to be fabricated, and the precious world that we all inhabit with animals.”
The film comes as two U.S. congressmen are introducing a new kangaroo protection bill, the Kangaroo Protection Act, to ban the sale of kangaroo body parts in the United States. If the act is passed, exploiting kangaroos in the U.S .will become illegal.
The film will be distributed through CHE’s partners, including SPCA International, on three continents, and along with it, there is also a petition calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrisson to ban kangaroo leather that has already thousands of signatures.
The petition states: “Kangaroos are one of Australia’s most iconic, loved and unique animals. They are also the victims of the largest commercial slaughter of land-based wildlife on the planet. The world wept for our wildlife after the 2019 Black Summer bushfires. And yet, here in Australia, it was business as usual for the commercial kangaroo industry. State and Federal Governments saw no problem with the continued slaughter of kangaroos. Some states – including NSW – increased their commercial slaughter quotas.”
Though the Nike officials are not pulling the trigger, they might as well be. Using spotlights and night-vision rifle scopes, hired guns to kill entire kangaroo families in the dead of night so they can sell the skins to the world’s best-known athletic shoe company. We shouldn’t wear athletic shoes made from the skins of kangaroos. There’s just no need for it. Every one of these companies already sells soccer cleats made from fabrics not stripped from the backs and bodies of wildlifeWayne Pacelle, president of the Center for a Humane Economy
Nike has slowly started addressing the growing demand for cruelty-free and sustainable footwear designs. For instance, in January, Nike released a brand new iteration of its popular SB Dunk sneakers creating it with animal-free leather. Before releasing its animal-free SB Dunk, Nike debuted its Space Hippie range, featuring four silhouettes created using only sustainable materials, from repurposed plastic bottles to post-industrial scraps.
Additionally, in October of last year, Nike announced a new sustainability initiative called Move to Zero, in an effort to ‘protect the future of sport‘, from moving to 100% renewable energy to eliminating all single-use plastics and converting waste into new products.
Nike’s competitors, Adidas and Reebok have also released circular footwear designs to match the increasing trend for vegan and plant-based leather.
A recent report predicts that the market for vegan leather will reach US$89 billion by 2025 especially in the Asia-Pacific region.
You can sign the petition calling on Nike to ditch kangaroo leather here.
Lead image courtesy of Karolina Grabowska/Pexels.