Is it just me (or because I live in Essex) or if fur slowly creeping back into the high street? I have noticed it in shops whilst perusing, and at markets, but a decade ago there was not hide nor hair of it (excuse the pun). So is fur becoming socially acceptable again, and if so why now?
I asked about a fur garment I saw in a shop the other day, and was informed that it was rabbit fur, the assistant did not know (nor seem to care) where it has come from, another shop stated that their fur was fox. I would not buy fur and would actively discourage others from doing so on the basis of ethics, but I eat game so is this a double standard?
Some rationalise the purchase of fur from animals such as rabbits by referring to it as a by-product, however most fur does not come from the same animals which are sold for meat. Some are bred specifically for high quality meat, others for fur. The meat from fur farms is usually used in pet foods or sold to zoos and the like.
There are two main sources of fur for textile production are farms in the EU, the US and those notorious establishments in China. There is a high incidence of poor welfare and much controversy associated with fur farming, apparently 10-25% of animals may die due mainly to respiratory problems caused by congestion. Animals are usually kept individually in wire cages, however, rabbits are highly sociable in the wild, so this causes welfare concerns and prevents natural behaviour.
But what about leather? I wear leather so is this a double standard or are the welfare standards higher? And then there is the by-product question. It is certainly extremely prevalent in shops and markets and seems to be far more socially acceptable then fur, why? Is our society just more comfortable with the idea of killing a cow, an animal routinely slaughter for meat, than a rabbit, an animal often kept as a pet? I hope not as that sounds awfully hypocritical.
The skins of cows that are killed for meat are often sold for textile production, and organic, high welfare leather is starting to creep into the market, I am a very keen supporter of organic farming (as anyone who knows me will be sure to attest) so this is definitely something I would be for.
But its not quite as simple as that, some of the softest (and therefore most desirable) leather comes from very young animals such as veal calves (another notorious industry), and then there is the tanning process which releases noxious and carcinogenic products such as chromium from chrome tanning into the environment. BAD.
So, not all leathers are created equal, and as with everything we consume, I believe that education is the key, researching your sources and only buying from ethic and sustainable sources. I often try to choose game over intensively farmed meat as the animals have a natural life with a high standard of welfare and then (usually) a quick death.
But I will certainly continue encouraging people not to buy fur (or angora, but that’s another story) and keep advocating ethical and informed consumption in all things.
Thanks for reading,
Image courtesy of BMW