Monday, March 04, 2013

Give a Hoot. Give Fur the Boot!

Give a Hoot, Give Fur the Boot!

Do ethics and the equal rights of animals hold any place in the heart of a true fashion leader?

A topic such as animal cruelty within the fashion industry has been brought up time and time again. We’ve all heard it a thousand times and it seems that no one really cares to hear it again; unless we are in a time when caring about animal rights within the fashion industry is cool, easy to do and fits with the trend of the season, which as of the last few years it has not.

It’s true that keeping up with all of the injustices of the world is not an easy task. Every time we turn around, one of our favourite products or companies is being reprimanded for the exploitation of something or someone; but with the vast knowledge of the internet at our fingertips, can we really use being uninformed as a valid excuse?
With the abundance of popularity of leather and fur in the last year, how can the question of animal rights not be brought to our attention? Are we really ignorant to what is actually happening to our four legged friends? Or are we simply apathetic?

Being Cruel isn’t Cool

With a growing demand for fur and leather over the past century, apparel produced from animals has gone from being functional to being fashionable. An industry spokesperson attributed the rise primarily to two factors: designers who have incorporated small amounts of fur and leather into a wider array of garments, making these items an option in warmer climates, and "a younger generation whose passion is not animal rights."

Although fur/leather/animal pelt wears are not all Cruella De Vil’s that wish to cause harm to an innocent creature, they are still part of the problem. By wearing real fur coats, sporting leather belts, carrying around designer leather handbags is a prime example of being an accessory to animal cruelty and supporting an industry fueled on the pain of living things.

Many of the tactics that are used to create these real animal fashion products are extremely inhumane and often too hard for the general population to imagine. This fact alone is one of the main reasons that most people stay ignorant to the injustices of animals; another would be the fact of wanting something and not caring where it came from.

The way these animals are killed is probably the worst thing to be ignorant or apathetic about. Many of the ways these products are produced is in the cheapest and most time efficient manner which is often the cruelest. This includes practices such as suffocation, electrocution, gassing and poisoning. There was a study done by PETA showed that “more than half of the fur in the U.S comes from China, where millions of dogs and cats are beaten to death or skinned alive for their fur. Chinese fur is often deliberately mislabelled so the consumer is unaware of whose skin they’re in.”

After countless acts of animal cruelty across the globe influenced by the fashion industry, a serious question needs to be asked. Can we really place the luxury and status of a garment over the well-being of another living creature?

Playing Devil’s Advocate

As with any hot topic, there are two sides to every story. So, are there any benefits to the continuous use of animal furs and skins? The Fur Council of Canada argues that there are, and that “fur is an excellent choice if you care about nature.”

The Fur Council of Canada is a national, non-profit association representing people working in every sector of the Canadian fur trade, in all regions of the country. Their stance is that fur is a natural, renewable and sustainable resource, meaning that as long as the fur trade in all aspects including trappers, farmers, auction houses, processors, designers, craftspeople, manufacturers and retail furriers are being regulated and holding up to legal standards that the use of fur can be environmentally friendly, ethical and respect humane standards.

They suggest that wearing real fur is “Being Green.” Fur is long wearing and more eco-logical than the popularity of today’s cheap, disposable, fast fashion. They argue that “tons of unwanted materials (80% non-biodegradable synthetics) end up in landfills, and most synthetics are made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource, can create major environmental issues when being produced and discarded.”

The Fur Council of Canada also disputes that by using fur, they are being ethical to the treatment of animals. They remind us that most animals produce more young than their natural habitats can support. Most young animals would die of hunger and disease or be killed by other animals. Although many people would argue that this is simply nature and it is not our place to intervene, they call this “sustainable use;” a principle now recognized and promoted by many serious conservation organizations.

Although there may be pro fur/animal pelt organizations out there that can assure us their use of animals is ethical, concerned with animal welfare and ecologically friendly, but the major problem is that the popularity of the product lead to mass production of it. The trend loving consumer cannot be guaranteed that their fur vest or leather purse was created with good intentions and proper protocol.

Even if a consumer chooses to say no to real animal products, can they be sure that their faux fur/leather items are not destroying the environment?

Whatever our personal and ethical reasoning’s may be, the most important decision a consumer can make is an educated one. We must be aware that we do have the power to change the world and with everyday resources such as Google and YouTube, it’s never been easier to become informed and spread the word.

No comments: