Should the fashion industry stop using real fur?
Although global luxury brands are ditching real fur, the look of fur has continued to be in high demand, as evidenced by escalating retail sales. In order to keep up, brands have introduced affordable, luxe versions, referred to as ‘faux fur’. Although made without killing animals, its production is still hurting animals in indirect ways by failing to be environmentally sustainable. As long as the demand for fur-based fashion continues to soar, the only genuinely sustainable option is to use real fur.
Marine life bears the brunt of the damage done to the environment by the production of faux fur, as it is largely made from synthetic polymeric fibres (polyester, modacrylic, acrylic) aka plastic. Not only do these fibres take upwards of 500 to 1000 years to biodegrade, they also release synthetic microfibers, toxic effluents that are released into rivers. These faux fur remnants have been found in the stomachs of fish (and humans). And each wash of faux fur adds to the harmful feed of marine life, as polyester/rayon particles are extremely miniscule and tend to avert water treatment plants. The particles leak into water systems every time we wash the fabric.
Real fur, being organic in composition, can biodegrade. A study comparing a faux fur coat to a real mink coat revealed that faux fur poses considerably more risk to the ecosystem and contributes more to toxic effluents being dispensed into rivers.
Hazardous substances like formaldehyde, dyes, bleaches can come into play with real fur. But the impact of real fur is relatively minimal in comparison to faux-fur production as assessed by industry experts.
The fashion industry’s use of real fur is unnecessary.
Since the 1800s, businesses have raised animals on farms with the intention of eventually selling or trading fur. These animals are obtained through the process of being baited into cages by “trappers” who are hired from fur companies. The trapping process has caused animals to get strangled and even lose body parts.
China plays an essential role in the fur industry, producing more minks than any other country. However, China has failed to implement any regulations towards fur farming and animal abuse. While the International Fur Trade Federation reports that the industry is worth over $40 billion, these animals are being starved to death in cramped, disease-filled factories while they await electrocution.
While the fur industry’s cruel treatment of animals is well publicized, fur production has also greatly polluted our environment. The World Bank ranked the fur industry as one of the five worst industries for toxic-metal pollution The National Environment Research in Denmark revealed that the fur industry annually releases close to 4,000 tons of ammonia into the atmosphere. When ammonia is released, it can have detrimental effects on biodiversity, particularly plant growth. These farms are also polluting rivers in the United States by releasing animal feces that contain over 1,000 tons of phosphorus into the water.
The fur industry’s careless treatment of animals and its detrimental effects on the environment show why fur needs to be completely banned from the fashion industry.
- Fake fur or ‘faux fur’ was invented in the 1910s.
- Los Angeles is the largest US city to ban the sale of fur.
- The Fur Information Council of America says that a fur coat properly cared for can last up to 50 or 60 years.
- An alternative to both real fur and fake fur is 3-D printed fur, which is currently in development and said to be very sustainable.
- Fur sales in the US were $1.5 billion in 2014.