1. FUR IS SUSTAINABLE
The fur industry is guilty of false advertising and has been punished for it, yet they continue to greenwash with terms like “natural” and “sustainable” that paint a pretty picture of a very ugly industry.
The French Board of Advertising Ethics (Jury de déontologie publicitaire, or JDP) has ruled that a current ad campaign by the International Fur Federation (IFF) is misleading and in violation of standards of advertising ethics. Read the full story here. This ad is still running in Magazines here in the USA.
A fur ad claiming that it's "Eco-Friendly to wear fur" was ruled misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority in 2012. Read about it here.
In 1992, Dutch group Bont voor Dieren lodged a complaint with the Dutch ASA against fur advertisements that described fur as ‘ecological’ (they also claimed that the welfare of animals on fur factory farms was ‘excellent’). The independent ASA said that fur could no longer be called ‘ecological’ describing the use of the word in this context as both ‘misleading’ and ‘improper’ (it also concluded that the claims over ‘excellent’ welfare were misleading). The judgement concluded that the Dutch Fur Institute’s attempt to take advantage of the public’s increasing concern for the environment was ‘intolerable’.
FUR: TOXIC & UNNATURAL
There’s nothing natural about the fur production process, which is polluting, energy intensive and can wreak havoc on ecosystems. On factory fur farms, where more animals are crammed into a small area than surrounding ecosystems have evolved to handle, toxic runoff containing high concentrations of phosphorous and nitrogen (the most common form of water pollution in the United States ) from animal waste pollutes the sensitive surrounding environment. Petrochemical dyes, finishes, preservatives and other volatile compounds are regularly used to beautify and prevent rot and infestation, harming the environment and consumers in the process, and preventing fur from decomposing as nature intended.
A top polluter. According to the World Bank, fur dressing (the use of chemicals to prevent rotting) is one of the world's five worst industries for toxic-metal pollution. This was addressed in this article as well.
Reliant on fossil-fuels. The Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health note in a 2008 report that intensive animal farming operations like fur farms are “almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels.”
Air pollution. In addition to air pollution arising from gases released in the animals’ manure, significant air pollutants are released when disposing of animal carcasses by incineration, a fairly common method of disposal. These air pollutants may include carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), hydrochloric acid (HCl), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), dioxins, particulates and heavy metals. Furthermore, the European Commission considers air pollution to be one of the chief environmental concerns of the tanning process, whereby toxic and odorous substances are typically emitted during normal tannery operations.
Eutrophication. Fur factory farming accounts for 10% of ammonia emissions (which causes eutrophication of aquatic environments due to runoff) in major fur producing countries such as Finland. This is an underestimated environmental threat according to scientific journal Nature (Dec 2018)
Water pollution. A 2003 Michigan State University study in the Fur Rancher Blue Book of Fur Farming states that “the U.S. mink industry adds almost 1,000 tons of phosphorus to the environment each year.”
Greenhouse gasses. The carbon footprint of the production chain of a single piece of mink (28kg CO2 - eqv / pelt) or fox (83Kg CO2 - eqv / pelt) is at the same level as the carbon footprint resulting from one to three days average consumption of a consumer. (source)
LCA. A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on mink fur and faux fur was conducted by Dutch research organization CE Delft. They examined manufacturing, cold storage, cleaning and life of the garments finding that faux fur is almost five times less harmful than mink. The overall conclusions of the LCA were : compared with other textiles, fur has a higher impact on the environment per kg in 17 of the 18 environmental categories, including climate change, eutrophication and toxic emissions.
Petrochemicals. Fur processing is a big business in Asia where regulations are lax. The process involves chemicals and dyes manufactured by the petrochemical industry. The ingredients used are volatile components.
Hazardous to health. Formaldehyde, chromium VI (hexavalent chrome), alkylphenol ethoxylates, azo dyes and chlorinated phenols all are widely used to preserve raw animal skins and turn them into preserved pelts for use by the fashion industry.
Scientific analysis of six fur fashion items purchased from high-street stores in China has revealed potentially dangerous concentrations of toxic chemicals, in one case 250 times above the levels permitted by law.
An investigation in Italy in December, 2014 found carcinogenic toxins like hexavalent chrome and formaldehyde present in fur clothing intended for babies and toddlers. The main processing chemicals used for preserving pelts are formaldehyde (linked to leukemia) and chromium (linked to cancer). In 1991, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined six fur processing plants $2.2 million for the pollution they caused, citing them for hazardous waste violations and stating that “the solvents used in these operations may cause respiratory problems, and are listed as possible carcinogens.”
Toxic tanning. Common methods for dressing fur skins involve formaldehyde and chromium — chemicals that are listed as carcinogens and are otherwise toxic to humans. Other chemicals that may be used or emitted in the dressing and dyeing processes and that appear on one or more US government lists of toxic chemicals include aluminum, ammonia, chlorine, chlorobenzene, copper, ethylene glycol, lead, methanol, naphthalene, sulfuric acid, toluene and zinc.
Invasive species. The fur industry has introduced invasive and non-native species (like nutria) that have destroyed coastal wetlands, and now they pat themselves on the back for killing feral nutria in the name of “guilt-free fur” and “saving the wetlands” that they destroyed in the first place.
History of extinctions.. Historically, the fur industry is responsible for the extinction and near extinction of many animals including the sea mink, toolache wallaby, Eurasian beaver, American bison, koala bear, and northern fur seal. The capture of "non-target" animals including endangered species is still a problem in the trapping industry.
Underregulated. Currently, at the Port Authority in NYC, fashion items from major brands containing endangered and threatened species are still regularly confiscated, as the investigative journalists at NBC’s news 4 I-Team discovered.
Studies on the toxicity and environmental impacts of fur production
2. THE FUR INDUSTRY IS HUMANE & WELL-REGULATED.
The fur industry is literally an industrial killing machine reliant upon a public kept ignorant about how animals are trapped or bred, confined, killed and processed. Every piece of fur requires the capture or confinement and killing of an animal at a scale of over 100,000,000 per year, globally. Every piece of media they create is PR spin designed to make us think of anything else but animals struggling to survive while being gassed, electrocuted, crushed, choked, poisoned or bludgeoned. Ultimately animals disappear into garments that reveal almost nothing about the honest story of where they came from. The fur industry is so ashamed of their own production processes that they’d never use the images of animals in confinement, languishing in tiny cages or show animals struggling to survive the killing process in their marketing or advertising. New Yorkers know that the ugliness of the process is hidden behind the beautiful fantasies they peddle.
HUMANE FUR IS AN OXYMORON
False “humane” claims. Dutch Advertising Standards Authority forced the fur brand Airforce to remove false “animal-friendly” claims from their labels. The company was selling jackets with raccoon dog fur trims labelled as ‘ethical’ and ‘responsible’. These claims of “animal-friendly fur” were shut down by the ASA. Read the story here.
Gaslighting. In a desperate attempt to slow the international wave of major luxury brands banning fur and anti-fur legislation, the fur industry sent out a press release claiming that fur investigations are “staged snuff films,” and paid for by animal advocacy groups, especially a video from Swiss Animal Protection/EAST International that shows a fully-skinned raccoon dog on a dead-pile lifting up their head and blinking into the camera. .
Documentation on farms and in the wild. Countless investigations from organizations all over the world reveal that cruelty is just business-as-usual in fur production. Things most people would find abhorrent, like anal/genital electrocution or standing on a trapped animal to crush their neck or lungs, are considered “standard industry practices”. Please review some of the many investigations and decide for yourself if the way fur is made is “humane”:
Finnish Fur Farms (2010) - Animal Defenders International
Danish Fur Farms (2010) - Anima
American Trapping Investigation (2011) - Born Free, USA
Norwegian Fur Farms (2012) - Animal Protection Norway / Network for Animal Freedom
Canadian Fur Farms (2014) -The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals
70 Spanish Rabbit Farms (2014) - Animal Equality
Chinese Raccoon-Dog Fur Farm (2015) - Animal Equality
Mink Farms (2015) - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Dutch Mink Farm (2015) - Stichting Animal Rights
Swedish Fur Farms (2015) - Djurrättsalliansen
American Trapping Investigation II (2016) - Born Free, USA
Polish Mink Farm Investigation (2016) - Open Cages
Norwegian Fur Farms (2016) - Norwegian Food Safety Authority
Lithuanian Mink farm (2016) - Open Cages
American Fur Farms (2016) - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Polish Fox Farm Investigation (2017) - Animal Defenders International
Finnish Fur Farms (2017) - Oikeutta Eläimille (Justice for Animals)
Fox on Polish Farm nearly escapes (2017) - Animal Defenders International
Bloody Harvest report (2017) - Animal Defenders International
A Lifetime: Living & Dying on a Fur Farm report (2017) - Animal Defenders International
Lithuanian Fur Farm (2018) - Open Cages Lithuania
Finnish Mink Farm (2018) - Oikeutta Eläimille (Justice for Animals)
Ontario Mink Farms (2018) - (Independent activist)
Belgian Mink Farms (2018) - GAIA
Chinese Badger Fur Farms (2018) - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Ontario Fur Farm (2018) - Last Chance for Animals
Fur Farms (2009 - Present) - We Animals
Unnatural confinement. The term “natural” is inaccurate when used to describe the origins of the majority of the world’s fur. The International Fur Trade Federation states that “wild fur represents about 15% of the world’s trade in fur,” leaving the great majority—85% by its own estimate—of the world’s fur to come from fur-bearing animals raised unnaturally on “fur farms”. The confinement operations typically consist of rows of barren cages in which wild animals spend their entire lives deprived of their natural habitat. Their freedom of movement is severely restricted, preventing the expression of many natural behaviors such as digging, for foxes, or swimming, for mink. As a result of such stresses, animals caged for fur frequently exhibit “stereotypic behavior”—abnormal and often repetitive pacing, circling or other movements, which can be an indicator of poor welfare.
Unnatural sizes. A study conducted in 2012 found, that the average weight of the farmed blue foxes in Finland was 42.7 lbs. In the wild these animals weigh from
6.6 to 11 kg.
Illegal cruelty. In Canada in 2014 a Quebec fur farmer was charged with animal cruelty following an investigation by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (S.P.C.A.). Fox and mink at the fur farm were seized by animal welfare organizations and some were in such poor condition that they had to be euthanized. Similarly, the Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported on a farmer in Rogaland County, who was fined NOK 30,000 after several of his caged minks were found with such large open sores that they had to be put to death at the scene. A Last Chance for Animals' undercover investigation into Millbank Fur Farm in Ontario, Canada has led to 14 counts of Animal Cruelty by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA).
MISLABELED & MISLED
Lawsuit. In a lawsuit brought by HSUS in 2009, several major retailers including Saks, Macy’s, and Bloomingdales broke with others in the industry to endorse the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, which then passed in Congress in 2010.
Violations. The HSUS later highlighted violations from December 2011 through December 2015 by retailers Amazon, A-List/Kitson, Barneys, Belk, Bluefly, Century 21 Department Stores, Eminent/Revolve, Gilt, Kohl’s, La Garconne, Mia Belle Baby, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Ross, Ruelala, Searle and Stein Mart. These retailers were selling fur-trimmed jackets described as “faux,” “raccoon,” “coyote,” or not labeled at all, which turned out to be raccoon dog, domestic dog, or wolf. Of 38 jackets subjected to mass spectrometry tests, every single garment was either unlabeled, contained a label that misidentified the animal, or was falsely advertised—some as “faux.” Three of the jackets advertised as fake fur— two of which had no label — were found to contain fur from domestic dogs. Retailers and brands continue to be caught mislabeling, like the 2019 news story exposing Boohoo and Zacharia Jewellers for selling animal fur items labeled as faux.
Unregulated. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has also shown how more than half of the fur sold in the united states is imported from China - a country that has virtually no regulations to protect fur animals, and that those furs sometimes come from domestic dogs and cats, are intentionally or unintentionally mislabeled as faux or as other animal species.
3. PROTECTING ANIMALS LIMITS CONSUMER CHOICE.
At the turn of the 20th century, you could purchase fur garments made from domesticated dogs or cats. Clearly, there was a cultural evolution that was eventually enforced by The Dog and Cat Protection Act (2000). In other words, a limit was placed on “consumer choice”, but for good reason. By the fur industry’s own logic, a limit on any product at all, no matter the consequences or contexts would be a hinderance to “consumer choice”. But is a free-market free of laws? If it weren’t for existing legislation like the Lacey Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Fur Seal Act and the Endangered Species Act, the fur industry would still be using cats, dogs, endangered and threatened species, and intentionally mislabeling fur to fool concerned consumers, like the fur industry did to the 8 million Koalas it killed and shipped to New York, London and Canada between 1888 and 1927 (they never recovered, with only about 40,000 left in the wild). A fur ban is no different than any other animal protection law. That’s why framing it as a limit on “consumer choice” is a misnomer. On the other hand, what is actually a limit on consumer choice is the fur industry fighting against a wave of emerging innovations, transparency and progress. The fur industry actively works against innovation in order to maintain relevance. That’s why a Fur-Free NYC is not about giving something up — instead it’s about creating opportunities for better design while investing in the emerging systems we want to see flourish.
Mercenary. The fur industry will sink to any low to maintain profits & relevance. They have hired “Dr. Evil” Richard Berman, notorious for fighting health, welfare, workers’ rights and safety regulations, to lie and confuse the public about fur. Read this dossier on Berman to get a feel for his tactics, take a look at who else he’s worked for, and then ask yourself why the fur industry chose him to represent them.
Bait. The fur industry’s manipulative tactics don’t stop there. They bribe fashion students and designers to create an illusion of relevance, as the New York Times exposed in the article, Fashion Feel’s Fur’s Warm Embrace. That is why fashion universities like Parsons School of Design have severed decades-long relationships with them. Instead, young and emerging designers want to create fashion that uses the most cutting edge, sustainable and ethical materials available.
4. YOU MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN FAUX FUR & ANIMAL FUR.
The alternative to fur is not necessarily faux fur. It’s no fur. Because fur is not a necessity, being anti-fur is simply that — it doesn’t require something to replace it. But even if faux were a mandatory alternative, the concern for plastic in faux fur is a feigned concern only because there is an attempt to replace a lucrative status-symbol like fur.
Faux concerns. We must question why there isn’t equal outrage over the synthetics used to tan and finish hides and leathers (syntans, mineral oil, PVC, polyurethane, polystyrene), line coats and make brand labels (nylon, polyester), make athletic and yoga apparel (spandex), running shoes, toothbrush bristles, carpets, garbage bags, mattresses, furniture, etc…
The fur industry’s claim that faux fur is “terrible for the environment” because of microplastics released during laundering does not actually apply to faux, because most people don’t wash outerwear often and keep coats for many years. Their problem is with fast fashion that is washed frequently and disposed of quickly.
Even so, three recent studies have shown that the fur industry’s major complaint about impacts of microfiber plastic pollution may be far lower than we think:
University of Plymouth Study: found microfibres from natural textiles ( cotton & linen, regenerated viscose & lyocell) were found in greater abundance than synthetic microfibres in the deep seas of southern Europe.
Leeds University Study: found that the amount of textile microfibers released during home laundering could be up to 90% less than has been anticipated.
A Nottingham Institution Study: suggests that natural textile fibers “dominate” freshwater & atmospheric fiber pollution, contrary to the popular narrative of polyester and other man-made fibers posing the greatest environmental threat.
Refined. Synthetics are always improving (whereas there are only so many ways to confine and kill animals by the millions). New technologies like BIOGREEN can actually transform synthetics into usable fuel.
Scientists from the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) found a way to repeatedly recycle polyester. (read more here)
Companies like Primaloft can now design synthetics that are recycled, infinitely recyclable and can even biodegrade in aquatic and soil environments in about 1 year.
The fields of Biodepolymerization & biocatalysis research is gaining momentum with much interest in how certain worms, bacteria and fungus metabolize plastics.
We have only just scratched the surface of what is likely going to be the next industrial revolution. Biofabrication, cellular agriculture, biosynthetics and bioplastics are set to completely transform the way we make everything. These visionary innovations are enabling us to eventually have nearly infinite design possibilities. New York City can be a center for this innovation, allowing fast-track access to designers, students and media. Here are just some of the companies who are carving out this space:
FUROID is working on lab-grown fur, pelts, and wool.
Bolt Threads already makes lab-grown Mycrosilk.
Provenance, Geltor, Amsilk, Spiber, and Vitro Labs are all working on similar lab-grown protein fiber technology.
Primaloft Bio’s hi-tech, sustainable synthetics and bioplastics can be used for faux fur.
Ecopel faux-fur is made from recycled materials, and soon, bioplastics.
Econyl turns recycled ocean plastic pollution from fishing nets into nylon, and they are testing faux fur with this circular-economy material.
Nanollose makes sustainable rayon fibers from industrial organic waste.
Lebenskleidung makes organic cotton faux fur and shearling.
Orange Fiber is made from the waste of citrus peels in Italy.
DevoHome - makes hemp Fur.
Cillia is an MIT project mastering 3D-Printed fur.
Algiknit is crafting fiber made algae.
10xBeta has created polyurethane fiber made from recycled C02.
Bloom makes performance polymers from algae biomass.
5. VIRTUOUS MILLENNIALS WANT FUR.
OUT OF TOUCH
The fur industry has spent a lot of money trying to win over (and bribe) younger people. With efforts like their “Fur Now” and “Fur Is Green” campaigns, they use edgier aesthetics, bright colors, and a false sense of purpose tied to wearing fur. But most young people see right through their PR and know that fur is a symbol that represents obsolete values. Today, the marketed mythology of fur can not withstand the reality of fur production. Fur now represents indifference to animals, ignorance about how things are made and a medieval perception of status. In other words, fur means you hate animals.
Searching. A recent study of 80 million shoppers over 12 month shows a 66% increase in searches for sustainable fashion with “Vegan fashion” specifically responsible for over 9.3 million social impressions on Lyst. It’s clear why the fur industry is so desperate to confuse people about whether it is “green”, they are trying to cash in on consumers’ genuine concerns for animals and the environment.
Data. A 2016 study of over a thousand millennials conducted by Mic clearly shows that the majority of young people won’t buy or wear fur. Only 19% said they were comfortable wearing fur. Meanwhile 70% of respondents said they would not buy a new clothing item with fur on it.
Broken record. Since the late 1990s, the fur industry has consistently sent out press releases almost every single year saying that “fur is back!”. But if it was never gone, what is it coming back from? In the January 1998 issue of fur industry trade magazine Fur Age, Editor Lisa Marcinek penned a feature article and Q&A entitled Media War in which she outlines a strategy to indoctrinate journalists: “… [The Fur Information Council of America] found that, by going after editors and promoting the news that fur is back in fashion, they found a receptive audience and reaped about 700 television, newspaper, magazine or radio stories positive for the trade… FICA participated in preparing most of the material printed or aired, supplying statistics, quotes and fashion photography.” What becomes disturbingly clear is that for the last two decades, a majority of the articles written about fur being “back” were simply industry-pitched stories containing spoon-fed lingo and statistics, as opposed to any form of organic journalism.
Sheared. The sheer number of top brands and retailers from Net-A-Porter to Phillip Lim, moving away from fur in the last few years is evidence enough that young people, their most important customer-base, do not want animal fur.
6. IF WE HAVE A FUR-FREE NYC, THERE WILL BE JOB LOSS.
Exaggerated problem. New York City, the fashion capital of the world, is home to 180,000 fashion industry workers, accounting for 6% of the city’s workforce and generating $10.9 billion in total wages. (source) Fur jobs represent just 0.5% of these jobs.
Skills are universal. Fur is simply a material input. Superior inputs can be used without a loss of design and manufacturing jobs. Therefore, the skills, from designing to patterning, cutting, and sewing that furriers have are still very valuable and can be applied across NYC’s growing sustainable design and manufacturing sector. There are NYC funds, initiatives & accelerators designed to help the fashion industry thrive in NYC.
History. There are many industries and jobs that have historical significance that our society has moved away from for ethical, environmental or economic reasons. This is how societies evolve, and the writing is on the wall — the end of the fur industry is inevitable for much of Europe and the United States. It is a relic that does not align with cutting-edge, sustainable material innovation, or the current science on animals and the environment. Prolonging and falsely propping it up while feigning concerns for jobs or the environment is bad for everyone.
New jobs. A fur-free NYC creates space and opportunity for innovation and sustainable design to thrive. New York City could be a leader in riding the wave of material innovation, creating fashion jobs and businesses.
Bans are global. Reputable companies are banning fur at an all-time high, as is international legislation banning the farming manufacturing of fur. If the fur-manufacturing centers of Europe can withstand bans, so can NYC.
7. FUR IS A LEGACY TOO IMPORTANT TO LOSE.
The pursuit of fur-free fashion is nothing new. Advertisements from London in the late 1800’s and early 1900s make it clear that there was a market for alternatives to fur on environmental and ethical grounds - and even a “Humane Dress League”. There is no reason that the legacy of ethical-fashion is any less valid than that of fur-farming.