Fur is back in – when we walk through town we see fur hats, fur coat trims and fur pom poms on bags and shoes.
We’ve heard it argued that fur isn’t such a big deal and that second-hand fur is ethical, but in this article we want to give you the facts so you can make up your own mind.
In the UK fur farming is now illegal, with the last fur farm closing in 2003. This is for a few reasons.
Animals on fur farms include minks, foxes, chinchillas, rabbits and raccoons. These are sentient, intelligent animals who when raised on fur farms are caged in areas so small that they never get to experience or develop any natural behaviours. When it comes to slaughter, pelts must be kept intact so methods include neck breaking, electrocution, and gassing.
85% of fur comes from fur farms: the animals are raised purely to be killed for their pelts. This raises environmental and ethical concerns.
We don’t want to upset anyone but in China (the largest exporter of fur products) there are no animal cruelty laws that apply to fur farms – and there has been verified footage of animals being skinned alive. There are also some accounts of cats and dogs among the animals on fur farms.
Just this year an online petition to ban fur imports into the UK reached 109,554 signatures. This meant the issue had to be discussed in parliament. The outcome looks promising with the finishing statement by MP Daniel Zeichner:
“I hope the minister will go back to the secretary of state with the very strong message from the house that it is time we banned the fur trade”.
MP Daniel Zeichner is from a (non-fur) farming background, so he’s not in an ivory tower.
You could argue that wearing fur is our heritage, just like eating meat. It’s interesting to note though that many people who eat meat are still against fur farming – wearing fur as a fashion statement isn’t necessary to keep warm these days! And the environmental impact and the suffering of animals doesn’t seem a sensible price.
But what about second-hand fur? Surely there can’t be any harm in wearing a beautiful vintage fur coat or hat?
The problem is that this perpetuates the cycle. If fur comes back into fashion, fur farming will inevitably start up again in countries with no animal rights laws.
And there are shops in the UK that accidentally stock fur – there’s been an increase in imported products which aren’t labelled.
If we’ve convinced you that fur is unkind and you’d like to do your bit, perhaps get involved with a demonstration. These are organised outside fur selling shops each winter.
If you’re confident enough you can approach people wearing fur and politely ask them if they’re aware of the issues surrounding the industry and show them how to get involved.
You can also check in shops to see if you’re handling real fur and then report to management if it’s not labelled as such. In our experience staff are often helpful and don’t want to stock fur, as in the UK fur must be labelled to be legally sold.
How To Tell Real Fur From Fake Fur
- You can tell real fur as it tapers at the edge of each hair, it feels ‘animaly’ as opposed to plastic-y, and will have skin at the base – fake fur usually has a mesh.
- If you blow on the fur it will move around freely (this test is good to check on those winter bobble hats).
Anti-fur demonstrations do seem to have an impact – Gucci, Dontella Verace and Michael Kors (big names in case you don’t know!) are all going fur-free.
Burberry have also announced they’ll be making their first ever fur-free collection and – get this – it’s been announced that London Fashion Week 2018 will be fur-free! Fur hasn’t been banned outright but none of the designers will be using fur.
According to the Guardian, London Fashion Week has announced this decision was based on the protests that have been staged outside over the last 2 years.
It’s also fascinating that Stella McCartney Fis putting together a vegan fur collection – but we’d argue that the environmental impact of plastic-based fur needs to be considered.
Until large fashion industries back faux fur made from recycled plastics, it’s unlikely that any vegan fur fashion collections will have a net positive impact on animals.
If you’re trying to work out what to do with old fur items that you own, did you know that some animal sanctuaries will accept donations of fur, which they can use for the care of newborn and baby animals?
Not sure about everyone else, but this fact alone makes us feel very strange about wearing fur. It’s meant to keep animals warm and safe, not to decorate humans!