Image source: Oikeutta eläimille
In our Eco Nation shop, all of the clothes and accessories are vegan. And it will always remain this way. There will never be room for leather handbags, silk dresses, wool sweaters, down jackets, feather or bone accessories, let alone fur collars in here. There are two simple reasons for that: respect for animal rights and responsibility for our nature.
Any conversation about what animal-derived clothes really are and what their production means to the animals and the environment is extremely sensitive. However, this is the particular reason why it is important to speak about these issues, see the reality as it is, and find out what’s in our hands to change the course of this ecological downward spiral that we find ourselves in nowadays. That’s why I want to introduce you to a series of articles that will lead you through the technical, ethical, and ecological aspects of the production of animal-derived materials, used in the fashion industry. So let’s start by examining what’s behind those fur collars, hats, and coats.
Animals used for fur: foxes, rabbits, minks, muskrats, beavers, ermines, otters, sables, seals, coyotes, chinchillas, opossums, cats and dogs (yes, that’s right!), etc.
Image source: Oikeutta eläimille
How It’s Done: Technique and Ethics
All of these and other fur animals are being hunted or bred and accommodated in cramped and filthy metal cages in fur farms, spending all of their short yet painful lives there. Profit is the one and only goal of the fur farmers. In order to achieve it, the farmers’ biggest concern is the amount of fur grown in total, whereas ecology and animal welfare do not play significant roles.
Trapped in cages, the animals can’t use up their energy by running, hunting, and otherwise living an active life, typical to them in their natural environments. Because of the specifics of living in barren environments, with space, feeding, sunlight restrictions and social deprivation, animals start to behave abnormally. As a result of aforementioned living conditions, the animals often develop stereotypies — repetitive motions without any obvious goal or function. Constantly experiencing stress, the barred animals often lose their minds, start acting aggressively towards other animals or, if completely isolated from the others, start hurting themselves instead. Without enough fresh air, nutritious diet, and physical activity, the animals are more susceptible to diseases. A lot of caged animals die prematurely — self-inflicted and other injuries only make the spreading of various diseases and infections easier.
This inconceivable torment lasts until the animals are big enough and produce the maximum amount of fur to be killed off. But here the story doesn’t end. In most of the fur farms, the animals are killed in the cheapest ways possible: from head smashing with a stick, suffocating, and breaking the animals’ necks, to electroshock, gas or other means of poisoning, throat cutting and leaving the animals bleed to death. In some countries (e.g. China) the fur is flayed from animals that are still alive. Such animals may still breathe and their hearts might still beat up to 10 seconds after the merciless procedure. The other animals “queuing” behind are in the position to watch the details of the gruesome destiny that awaits them too.
Most of the Western countries have local fur farms. However, fur garments arrive from all over the world, the majority of them being from China. If you buy fur garments made in China, there’s absolutely no guarantee that you’re not about to wear the fur flayed from dogs and cats. The true origin of fur after treatment is unrecognizable, while the labels can and often do lie. The cruel treatment of animals in China’s fur factories is widely known, however, you shouldn’t expect anything much more humane even in local fur factories in your home country. For the people working in this industry, such animals are nothing more than mere objects that grow fur, and that says it all.
Photo source: Oikeutta eläimille
Ecological Issues and Human Health
The fur that has been just flayed from the animal flesh has to be treated with toxic chemicals. This procedure is unavoidable in an attempt to save the skins on the wrong side of the fur from decaying and maintaining the “natural” shine of the fur. As you may already imagine, there’s nothing natural left in fur after it leaves the bodies that it belonged to. The fur is being cleaned, disinfected, soaked, bleached, coloured, and in other ways being prepared for wearing, using various chemicals, which pollute soil, water, and air.
Speaking of pollution, we have to mention that those thousands of animals living and dying in fur farm territories leave organic waste that emits toxic gas into the environment. These chemical compounds have a significant influence on people and other animals, affecting them through water, soil, and air. Animal rights aside, the long and multi-layered process of producing and processing fur uses immeasurably more energy and natural resources than, say, the production of faux fur.
Nowadays, especially in the developed societies, the role of fur is nothing else than a symbol of a supposed luxury and economic status. Just to make things clear, we’re not talking about the communities living in extremely cold conditions and/or indigenous communities, secluded from the civilized world, who wear fur in order to save themselves from cold. In such cases, these communities don’t build fur farms, but rather hunt the animals by themselves, using up every useful part of a hunted animal, including its fur.
Wearing fur only as a symbol of status sadly reminds us of our ancestors’ behaviour and certainly does not give a nod to the accomplishments of our civilization. However, if you find the looks of fur beautiful and stylish, yet you don’t want to contribute to the animal abuse and environmental pollution, it’s worth to take a look at the selection of faux furs out there. Faux fur can look as good as the “real deal,” plus it will cost a lot less to you, the environments and the animals out there.
References with links:
- On fur industry: PETA
- On fur industry’s impact on the environment: PETA
- China’s fur trade exposed in 60 seconds: video
- A documentary film that revealed to the world the ways and the extent the animals are exploited in many fields of our lives: The Earthlings (2005)
- Fur industry facts: lcanimal.org
- How the fur industry sneaked back into fashion and got back its long-lost reputation as a symbol of luxury: dailymail.co.uk
- On vintage fur coats vs. new fur coats in contemporary fashion: collectorsweekly.com
- On fur industry: video
- A compilation of video footage by PETA activists, taken in fur farms in the countries qualified to bear the “Origin-Assured” label, which was created by the fur industry. This label should guarantee the consumer that this fur is produced under strict animal welfare regulations, which can’t be further from the truth. Here’s why: video