Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Fur is “green”…? December 7, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. A. Breeze Harper @ 1:14 am

This is very interesting to me:

http://www.furcouncil.com/renewable.aspx

A quote from the website:

“Synthetics are generally made from petroleum (a non-renewable resource), which is NOT consistent with the sustainable use of our environment.
The production, transportation and disposal of petrochemicals can cause environmental problems.
The sustainable use of wildlife also provides an economic incentive to protect wilderness areas — the key to maintaining healthy wildlife populations.”

Has anyone seen this? I have always wondered how sustainable it is to buy vegan Gore-Tex apparel (and similar) for winter clothing when, to produce Gore-Tex, is not very “green”. But, how does one make the decision to select winter apparel as a practitioner of veganism?

Does anyone have any “evidence” of what are the “better” options for winter apparel to avoid suffering of humans, non-human animals, and the environment? I’m also wondering if there is any information about making winter apparel from hemp or cotton that is organically and fair trade made. Are animal based winter clothes REALLY the “warmest” and “greenest” option? And “green” for whom? I’m thinking that the non-human animal probably wouldn’t have the same understanding of “green” or agree that being killed for his/her fur is the “best option”….

I don’t now… something about this Fur is Green site makes me suspicious….

Best,
Breezie

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15 Responses to “Fur is “green”…?”

  1. Doris Says:

    When they are talking about “synthetics” I believe they’re referring specifically to fake fure, not other synthetic fabrics.

    I read an article about how real fur and fake fur (and real leather and fake leather) are equally hazardous to the environment, because so many chemical treatments are required to preserve the fur/skin. (I can’t recall when/where I saw this article, but my best guess would be Vegetarian Times, about 10-15 years ago.) Think about it – if you just put an untreated animal skin on your body, how long would you be able to wear it before it would be eaten by maggots? Or shriveled up and turned hard and dry? And even with all those chemicals, the real furs have to be put in refrigerators over the summer or they will rot. How much energy is used to keep these furs from rotting every summer?

  2. Personally, the decision is not between real fur or faux fur, it’s between faux fur or other vegan outerwears. I don’t care how the fur farms spin it, real fur is NOT an option.

    Green alternatives to fur:
    1) Thrift store coats or hand-me-downs
    2) Clothing made from recycled plastic (example: http://www.cagoulefleece.com/ )
    3) Organic hemp or cotton (as suggested above)

    Also, a good resource for vegan fashion is http://thediscerningbrute.com/

  3. Matt D. Says:

    I don’t really buy the “fur is green” argument. Fur is a luxury item, so maybe natural fur is greener than synthetic fur. But I see that as similar to arguing a certain aerosol spray is green because it contains half as many CFCs as another type.

  4. Deb Says:

    What material will work best for you in the winter depends in part on what you’ll be doing outside. If you’re going to be doing backwoods hiking, long winter bike treks in remote areas, etc, cotton can actually be dangerous (retains water, so if you sweat, you are in danger of getting chilled), and ‘tech wear’ important. However, if you’re just trying to keep warm in a general sense and don’t expect to be exerting enough energy to be sweating in the cold, and are looking for people making stuff with cotton and hemp, etsy.com is a good place to look. At least the end product is made by individuals setting their own price, and you can always ask about their sources of material.

    If you need tech wear, there is some good news. There’s been more advancement in some of the outdoor wear in the use of recycled material than any other area of clothing, that I know of. So polar tec, you’ve probably heard of – it is used by patagonia and probably most outdoor sport clothing retailers for fleeces. And it is, at least to some degree, made using recycled plastic bottles. They are recyclable as well.

    There are also some companies, like foxwear, that are small shops making their own products from polartec. (http://www.foxwear.net/index.html) Same overall issue as with etsy, at least in the sense that while we can be confident that those doing the stitching are not being exploited, I don’t know enough about the origins of the material themselves. I don’t know enough about patagonia’s labor stances and sources, but they do a good job of specifying which of their products are made from recycled fabrics.

    Looking at fur and wool, and the exploitation and death that is inherent in the production of both, it seems that even if the origins of the polartec or cotton/hemp yarn aren’t squeaky clean, it is still the better option. As for environmental issues comparing the two, fur and wool are FAR from clean and green, which the fur-promotion website side steps completely.

    Perhaps the best option overall (in a bigger environmental and social justice sense) is to find what you need at a thrift store or other source of previously-owned goods. That way you’re not contributing to further resource usage or worker issues. But it can be hard and time-consuming to find what you need, going that route.

    There are still environmental issues with recycling plastic, of course, but we HAVE to recycle the plastic, and I’m glad that the outdoor-wear people are making use of those materials.

    I’m biking to work now, and I’ve been struggling with having to purchase so much new gear to accomplish this. I console myself with the knowledge that I’m making the best decisions I can and researching the tech-gear options as thoroughly as I can, and I know that once I have what I need, they’ll last for years. While it would be better if I didn’t have to buy anything at all, I do think that we’ve got some pretty good options when it comes to winter tech gear, from environmental, labor, and vegan perspectives.

  5. supernovadiva Says:

    the key to maintaining healthy wildlife populations

    i always wondered about this constant quote when it comes to hunting, zoos and whatnot. basically killing animals for their own good. how did they control their populations before human involvement? how did they exsist before the western consumption? do you NEED fur or that new coat? the economy is evidence of what can happen in over consuming. so i’m with everyone else. do neither if you can and run to your local thrift store.

  6. Barb Says:

    supernovadiva–these are good questions. Basically we’ve killed the predator populations and they need to be re-introduced, as far as I know. And zoos–we’ve destroyed the entire habitat and figure a prison can substitute. No! We need functioning, complete, dynamic ecosystems!

  7. The fur council’s “green fur” is as ludicrous as it is ridiculous. Fur is red with blood and raw carcasses after the animals’ skins and fur have been ripped off.

    Trapping and killing a million of Canada’s animals every year out of the eco-system for fashion cannot be eco-friendly.

    Ripping the skins off the animals’ backs and soak them in chemical baths to prevent decaying and growing of bugs cannot be green.

    Why Canadian government allows such a blatant lie is beyond me.

  8. Can someone please explain to me how killing millions of animals is good for the environment?!

    Is the fur council so backward that conserving the environment means killing wildlife?

    Obviously, when the fur council talks about “green” fur, all they can see is the “greenback”. They are jumping on the “green” band wagon and green washing people with this laughable scheme for 3 simple reasons – money, money, and money!

    Take a look at http://www.CrueltyIsNotGreen.com

  9. Gary Says:

    Notwithstanding Lisa Clarkson’s spot-on observation about the complete insincerity in the fur industry’s faux-concern about being green…

    Many non-vegans seem to miss a profound aspect of why it is important to preserve the environment, and that is because sentient beings depend on the environment. Again relying on Lisa Clarkson’s comment…there is a profound illogic and twisted morality to wantonly killing the beneficiaries of a healthy earth in the name of “being green.”

  10. Gambra Says:

    To produce faux fur one need first of all drill some wells, then pump out oil, then transport it using pipelines (an infrastructure that is far from being environment-friendly) and/or tankers (which occasionaly sink and poison tens of thousands square miles of ocean and coasts, killing millions of species). Then synthetic fiber is produced, another process which is not very friendly to the environment…

    Also faux fur coats and jackets are usually being thrown away in a year or two, and recycling is not an easy task.

    This is not to count in how many wars and suffering is happenning around the globe just to control oil-fields…

  11. adam Says:

    I’m not able to say with great confidence whether fur has a smaller eco-footprint than petroleum-based products; though, it seems quite possible, in some cases, it might. On the other hand, even if it did, I still would not call it “green” anymore than I’d call non-leather shoes made in a sweatshop “vegan.”

    I tend to dismiss any claims that a product is “green” as green washing. Basically, by titling a product “vegan,” “ethical,” or “green” consumers are pacified from investigating whether those labels are valid. Breeze, as you have mentioned elsewhere these labels are used to sell products. People, espeically the middle class, feel that they must consume “vegan” and “green” products to be so. But, to paraphrase The Vegan Ideal, you cannot buy or sell a revolution(ary philosophy).

  12. Gary Says:

    To produce real fur (for fashion) starts with heartlessness and viciousness, then moves on to ruthless domination and torture.

    Furthermore, the gruel fed to animals confined in fur operations is often the by-products of other tortures and severe exploitations – which happen to also be environmental cesspools.

    So, as Elaine Vigneault implied, real fur vs. faux fur is a false dichotomy. There are better, more responsible, less violent, more sustainable, more ethical – almost always available – choices we should be considering.

  13. Gone Green Says:

    I think the giveaway in the quote from that website is “The sustainable use of wildlife…”

    Excuse me? USE of wildlife? If words are a window to your soul then I would be instantly suspicious of anybody who can utter such contempt for nature.

  14. I don’t buy into the whole fur is green stuff either. You are right to be suspicious. Green is a new fad, some people say. It might be very true. Everything is supposedly green now…

    I see little references that back up their claims and I am even highlighting their campaign on my blog. Fortunately the HSUS is providing some counter weight to this campaign.


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