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February 10, 2015

Can Fur Ever Be Ethical?

Swift_Fox

The fur industry has done its fair share of marketing to promote fur as ethical, but can it ever be?

Wearing animal skin has become a symbol of status and it is quite the trend as of late.

If you’re anything like me, fur is not an option. I will not buy it and do not wish to receive it. If you’re not like me though, please consider alternatives to the fur found in designer department stores. The fur industry is overwhelmingly brutal, however, that is not what advertisers would like us to believe.

You might hear that fur is a byproduct of the meat industry; this is rarely the case. Many animals slaughtered for their fur are not generally consumed by humans. How often do you eat fox, raccoon or wolf for dinner?

Another common marketing ploy is to promote fur as an eco-friendly option. While fur may be natural and biodegradable, the chemicals used to process it are not. Ammonia and formaldehyde are regularly used to bleach and dye fur. Other environmental issues include exorbitant energy usage and waterways poisoned by waste. According to PETA, producing a fur coat from ranch-raised animals takes more than 15 times as much energy as does producing a faux-fur coat.

A third myth about the fur trade is that it supports local trappers and small businesses. While this is true in some parts of Canada and Australia, 85 percent of the fur industry’s skins come from fur factory farms. Many of these farms are located in China, where environmental regulations and animal rights advocacy are lax. I don’t wish to go into the inhumane treatment here, but be aware that it does exist. Even “Origin Assured” pieces provide little assurance. The designation is intended to guarantee a certain standard of animal welfare, but what is a little extra food to a fox living only to die for its fur?

Still, there are cruelty-free fur products. The couture brand Petit Mort is devoted entirely to salvaging, instead of slaughtering. The designer, Pamela Paquin, recovers road kill and turns it into one-of-a-kind pieces. According to Pamela, each animal she skins is given a spiritual send-off inspired by her Native American heritage. With millions of animals struck by automobiles each year, there is no shortage in supply. While their deaths are still tragic, this innovative concept helps to save animals solely raised for slaughter. If I were to wear fur, this is a business model I might actually support. These animals are already dead, making meaningful pieces from their flesh does not conflict with my belief that we should do no harm.

Another ethical alternative is buying used fur. If you absolutely must by that muff, shop second hand stores. While the piece may not be cruelty-free, it has already been bought, sold and abandoned; it is surely better not letting it go to waste.

Ultimately, you decide what feels right to you. Think about what you want, what you need and what is important to you. We all have our own values, be guided by this knowledge and make an informed decision regarding future fur purchases.

 

Relephant:

If you wear fur, & you can’t watch this video, don’t wear fur. If you don’t wear fur, but love animals, share this video.

 

Author: Kristen Koennemann

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wikipedia

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Kristen Koennemann