July 17, 2008

leather steering wheel

For those of you wondering... The Smart 2008 has a leather steering wheel and shifter. When we first got our Smart back in '04 - leather was an option and we were so stoked we wrote the Smart company a letter thanking them for giving us a cruelty free option. Flash forward to '08 and leather is now mandatory. No options. :(

So what to do. What to do. We spoke to our dealer about how we didn't want the leather. He said there was no way to just switch them with a different steering wheel/shifter. He then suggested that when the car arrived they would strip the leather off and put on a fabric cover instead. Great. Or is it?

We went back and forth weighing out our options. The pros and cons. We're not just vegan. Ya know? We also care a great deal about the carbon footprint we make. Going car-less is not an option for us. We have to use the car for work and it's a necessary evil so we've chosen a car that makes a small footprint instead of a big one. We didn't choose the smart because it's quirky and cute. We chose it because it's good on gas and has very low emissions and keeping the '04 wasn't an option (long boring story there).

If they make us a non-leather steering wheel ... that's just just one more item going into the landfill. So that's not good for the planet. I'm trying to be less wasteful. Hmmm. Ok. So let's get a different car with no leather but then it's not as good on gas/emissions and that's not good for the planet. Arrrghhh. So what to do?

We found ourselves in one of those sticky vegan situations in life where you have to look at the pros and cons and move forward the best way you can. It was a tough decision. We're not happy the car has leather and I wrote a letter to Smart letting them know how bummed I am that they don't have non-leather options anymore.

Gosh. With the leather steering wheel and the spider murder the other day ... I'm really losing the vegan battle here.


Janey said...

You most certainly aren't losing the vegan battle my lovely Sarah! I think we can all do the best we can given all the circumstances and certainly in the case of your car you have no option. You still rock Sarah don't you worry there!! Wear your vegan crown with pride!

skinartia said...

That really sucks that they don't have the no-leather option anymore. :( Look at it this way: Animal products are used in tires, too.

I think this is an environmentally sensible car and it's a good choice for you. That alone is a huge pro.

Whatever decision you make, all us loyal vegan followers will still adore you and won't condemn you. :)

nicole said...

I have the same battles most days—vegan vs. natural. In particular, I'm torn over the mattress situation. Here in the states, mattresses are required to have some sort of fire retardant. Either its chemicals or wool. To get a natural mattress without wool, you have to have a doctor's note. Some companies do make "less toxic" mattresses, but still, I'd prefer one that is not toxic at all.

E.K. Wimmer said...

I don't know what the shifter looks like. Can't you replace it with a metal skull that has ruby eyes! Also, a steering wheel cover isn't a bad idea (just not a Looney Tunes one!), it covers up the leather at least. What to do for the greater good? Like the other person said, tires aren't vegan. Just pick your battles and move along. The most productive thing you can do is start a petition on your site for fans to send to the Smart Car people asking for a non-leather option. It worked for Frances Bay!

ashley said...

I had been searching for shoes for 8 months that I could wear to work and not be in pain 3 hours later ( I have funny boney wide feet) so after trying on countless shoes that dug-in in all the wrong places I heard about some shoes called TOMS... they are great little canvass shoes and they fit awesome and... with every pair sold a kid in need gets a free pair of shoes... great right??? LEATHER insoles that dont come out.... first pair of comfortable shoes in 8 months and free shoes to a kid in need.... vs. leather...

the shoes won... in fact 2 pairs of shoes won and so did 2 kids and 2 feet.

so don't feel so bad we all do it.

Anonymous said...

Hi dear Sarah,
do you now Peugeot 107? It's a great car that does not use a lot of gas and has got no leather interieur.
Greetings from Switzerland, Chantal

AKM said...

I'm quite sure no one who loves you will judge you, and so many of us love you! You do so much for the vegan and environmental causes, and sometimes one just has to do the best she can. I think it's probably impossible to be absolutely 100% vegan, but 99% is pretty damn good! Enjoy the new car! :-)

leftofemma said...

Ack. I know how you feel. I just bought a used car this past Monday. While researching models, it seemed like all of the ones that had the options I wanted also had leather seats, steering wheels, or shifters. Big bummer. I could have skirted by on the "well it's used leather" deal, but that didn't feel right to me. Luckily, I found a car that doesn't have leather at all.

I think that it's always a struggle when we have to decide how vegan we want to be. Where and when do we cross the line?

Raven said...

Oh dear, that's a huge dilemma. I wish I knew the answer. Is it possible to swap with another smart car owner who has an older model, non-leather accessories? That way it doesn't go into the landfill.

If you keep the leather, you could buy/have made a vegan steering wheel cover.

leigh said...

that's so annoying! i don't like leather in cars (besides the dead animal factor) because it tends to get REALLY hot or REALLY cold. booo. but if there is no other option, i'd just keep it :-/