Vanity rules the day in modern society. Few people seem interested in how their clothes are made, as long as they look good in them. But how good can your image really look in the mirror if you’re fully aware of the fact that the fur or leather you wear depended on the suffering of innocent creatures. What really looks good is a clear conscience, which you can have by embracing a bit of awareness and some earnest choices.
Fur and Leather
Animals suffer dreadful pain in this industry. To cut costs, fur farmers shove and kick animals into unbearably small wire cages where it is impossible for the animals to move more than a few inches. Forced to live a life of misery, many animals go insane and mutilate themselves to quickly end their lives. The surrounding fur factory farms are usually dark, filthy sheds or barns where the ammonia from the animals’ accumulated urine burns their eyes and lungs. Eighty-five percent of the fur industry’s skins come from animals on these farms.
Furriers claim that the carcasses of animals skinned for their pelts are used for animal feed, but often they are simply dumped into landfills. In fact, sometimes it is impossible to use the flesh of the animals, as a result of their being killed with injections of poison.
Sadly, those animals are often the lucky ones. Because the main goal of workers on fur factory farms is to keep the fur intact, many animals are skinned or boiled alive, while others have clamps attached or rods forcibly inserted into their mouths and anuses, with which they are painfully electrocuted.
Why Wool Isn’t Any Better
The problem with wool, otherwise known as fleece, is that sheep are not simply shaved; their coats are not taken from them with their skin remaining intact. Shearers are usually paid by volume, not by the hour. This encourages fast work without regard for the welfare of the sheep, and so the animals are often cut and mutilated during the shearing process.
A lot of sheep are genetically modified to have an overwhelming amount of wool on their skin, which limits their mobility, obstructs their eyesight, and prevents them from being able to do so much as defecate without discomfort. Amidst careless treatment and a complete lack of hygiene, sheep contend with maggot colonies forming in their wounds and under the massive amount of mutated wool. In hasty efforts to limit the spread of infection, shearers tend to purposely cut pieces of the sheep’s skin using unsanitary tools.
After being subjected to all of this and then stripped of their wool, many sheep are sent for slaughter without regulation. The sheep are sometimes mutilated without anesthetic or without being stunned. They are simply cut open and bleed to death.
Environmental Impact of Animal Clothing
After an animal has been slaughtered and skinned, his fur is treated with toxic chemicals so the raw skin that usually putrefies becomes a durable material. Various salts consisting of ammonia, formaldehyde, hydrogen peroxide, and other chromates and bleaching agents are used to preserve and dye fur. The situation is worse in China, where an estimated 80 percent of the world’s fur is processed. There, environmental regulations are far more lax, and are often ignored outright.
The entire chain of production further adds to this environmental impact. Transportation, waste removal, electricity, the slaughter process, pesticides, vaccines, antibiotics, disposal of carcasses, fur tannery – all play a role. A fur garment takes more than fifteen times more energy to produce than a faux-fur garment. Meanwhile, animal manure further contributes to rising concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gasses.