Does 'ethical' or 'green' fur exist?

Single white mink looking out of its cage

Single white mink looking out of its cage

No. WSPA is opposed to the farming of animals specifically for their fur or skins. It is morally indefensible to subject animals to suffering and death for trivial and non-essential luxury goods.

Besides, it is virtually impossible to identify where fur originates and so – on this evidence alone – it is right to state that fur is never ‘ethical’ and it is never ‘green’. You can’t buy it anywhere on the planet.

In 2006, the International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF) launched its ‘Origin Assured’ label, along with advertising campaigns such as ‘Fur is Green’. These campaigns and the label are cleverly crafted to dispel the moral stigma attached to wearing fur and to win back designers and consumers, by promoting fur as a humane and environmentally friendly product.

These euphemisms hide the real truth about the life and death of the millions of animals used in the fur industry, behind the sanitised and glossy world of fashion, and obscured by million dollar PR campaigns.

Three years after their ‘Origin Assured’ campaign, the IFTF announced that for 2009 alone, global fur sales (garments and accessories) were worth just over $13 billion.

Labelling: the truth

Completely inadequate import and labelling regulations mean consumers can never know exactly what they are buying. Across the European Union, for example, fur garments do not actually have to be labelled as such.

In the USA, the Federal Fur Products Labeling Act (1951) was passed to protect consumers by requiring all garments with real fur to indicate species and country of origin on clothing labels. However, this federal law only requires clothing manufacturers to disclose the inclusion of fur on a garment if its value is more than $150.

Five States: Wisconsin, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, have signed legislation requiring all garments made of animal fur to now be labelled with the type of animal fur and its country of origin. For tips on avoiding real fur, visit the Fur Free Alliance Website.

The origin of species

Rabbits at a fur farm

Rabbits at a fur farm

© WSPA

As is apparent, the international fur sector is very complex. Pelts produced by farmers are passed through several countries and undergo various processes before reaching the final consumer. It is therefore difficult for consumers to avoid fur products from countries like China (a member of the IFTF), which is flooding the global market with ‘budget fur’. This is frequently mislabelled in species and origin. For example, dog and cat fur is regularly disguised as a vintage or even ‘faux fur’ so as to circumvent international regulations. So, even if you choose to buy fake fur, you cannot be certain that you haven’t in fact bought real cat or dog fur!

In an effort to avoid the image of cheap production and inferior quality, most retailers are unwilling to declare the true origin of their garments. Fashion retailers are able to import fur from China without having to declare its origin when they resell it.

Environmentally-friendly fur?

Fur is never ‘green’. The sheer scale of numbers of animals killed in and around the major fur-processing centres poses a considerable environmental burden, with vast amounts of blood and offal accumulating in slaughter facilities.

In the production of fur, dangerous chemicals, including chromium and formaldehyde – two highly polluting and potentially carcinogenic substances – represent an environmental and human health hazard.

High quality fur does not mean a high quality of life

Most ’fur animals’ are killed just after their first winter moult, at around eight months of age; at this time their first winter coats have emerged and are in prime condition. Therefore, the condition of their coat in no way reflects the conditions in which they have been reared.

Fur farms are intensely cruel, but this does not mean that wild or “free range” fur is any better. Traps and snares – capable of crushing bone – do not offer anything approaching a quick or compassionate end for animals caught in the wild.

Fur trim is just as bad!

Fur trimmed coats or garments are just as cruel as a whole fur coat, and may be even worse! Animals used for fur trim are regularly subjected to even greater mistreatment than those used for full coats. This is because smaller pieces are needed and so even less care is taken to prevent disfiguring, injury or disease.

The market for fur trim is actually overtaking that for full fur garments and is estimated to be worth billions of dollars per year.


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