Skyeskyns and Sustainability

Skyeskyns is anchored in its environment, in the landscape of Skye and Waternish.  The busines began as a small project to make use of our own skins, from the lambs on our croft. Thirty-five years later, we are still making use of this waste product of the meat industry and transforming it into beautiful handcrafted, hand-finished and durable products. We are proud to maintain an age-old craft and to share it with younger generations and visitors to the tannery every day. We source our skins from our nearest abattoir, Inverness, keeping transport miles to a minimum where we can and preventing Scottish raw skins being exported to producers overseas. 

Through our private tan service, we offer farmers, crofters and smallholders the opportunity to tan the skins of their own sheep and lambs coming back from the abattoir, completing the circle of production and making full use of the animal. 

Of course, what began as a small crofting diversification project has grown into something much bigger but our ethos of looking after the land and its resources, "treading carefully" as we go, remains.  For instance:

  • We continue to use skins from our local abattoir
  • We recycle our tanning agents.
  • We use offcuts from sheepskins to turn into other products, fill our cushions or simply insulate our building.
  • We recycle at every opportunity: this includes recycling good quality cardboard boxes from suppliers and using them to parcel up customer orders; minimising printing; re-using scrap paper and wrappings in the office and post room. 
  • In 2018 we moved to using biodegrable plastic bags (which have a very low environmental footprint) to pack fleeces for dispatch.
  • Plastic tape has been replaced by brown paper tape. 
  • By Summer 2021, our packing beads and postal bags will be biodegrable.
  • We now have a electric car charging point just outside the tannery in Waternish, with an electric van for moving stock to our store in Portree from April 2019. 

Our approach to sustainability includes choosing clothing, accessories and other suppliers based in the UK and in Europe, usually small to medium-sized businesses who share our ethos and our approach to quality, sustainability and craftmanship. We look carefully at the supply chain: where skins comes from, where the wool for jumpers is sourced, where and how leather is tanned.  We pride ourselves in selecting excellent products according to exacting standards. We believe in a slow fashion approach, selling beautiful clothing made with care and which can be worn for years, staying stylish without giving up on sustainability.

We are continually striving to improve our tanning process and to minimise its already low environmental impact. We are currently experimenting with different tanning processes that will allow us to achieve the same high quality products whilst lowering the impact we have on the environment by looking at what we use as part of the process and how we can reuse or recycle it with any residual being fully biodegradable.

We are a growing local business, putting money back into Skye and Scottish suppliers where we can, and proud to support sustainable employment on Skye, with flexible working patterns.