It’s Here: Fur-Free Season!
With winter quickly approaching, you'll soon be swapping the clothes in your closet for warmer options - if you haven't done so already. You may have indulged in the Black Friday madness – that one day of retail frenzy chock-full of huge discounts and promos to officially kick off the holiday shopping season. Black Friday also sparks anti-fur protests – dating back as far as the early ‘80’s. FUR-FREE FRIDAY – as it’s commonly referred to now – is used to shed light on the cruelty and misery the animals of the fur industries have to endure for the sake of fashion. As activists ourselves, we're here to help answer the common questions about fur, the animals used in the fur industry and give tips on what to wear instead.
What exactly is fur and why shouldn't I wear it? Fur is an animal's actual coat that is still attached to their skin. I'm sure you've heard or even seen fur protests, and you may even be familiar with PETA's famous campaign, "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur". But what makes fur...bad? Animals used in the fur industry can sometimes be caught in the wild or bred on a fur farm where they spend their entire life confined to a tiny, cramped, dirty metal cage. The animals are forced to endure suffocation, electrocution, gas, and poison simply because these are the cheapest killing methods by fur farmers. They can also have their skin ripped from their body while still alive, something that can really only be compared to scalping. The animals taken from the wild are caught using steel-jaw traps that trap their legs, or any body part including their neck, cutting down to the bone causing them to live the remaining hours - or even days - of their lives in utter agony.
What animals are at risk to the fashion industry? Beavers, seals, muskrats, bears, chinchillas, rabbits, minks, and foxes just to name a few. Even dogs and cats have been used to make fur products in China and then are sold to the US market. These products are often mislabeled which can make it nearly impossible to know whose skin you're wearing. All of these animals are capable of experiencing and feeling pain, anguish, depression, and fear which is why they don't deserve to be mutilated, tortured, and killed for that fur jacket, sweater, or boots.
How do I avoid products made from fur? Before you make a purchase, read the label. Most products made from actual fur will say so on the label since fur has been coveted in the fashion industry for decades. Customers who are in the market for the "real thing" want to be sure they're buying an authentic product. However, even products labeled as faux can actually be real. In order to tell if a fur is in fact faux, we have some tips:
- Burn it. Now, we don't recommend you break out a lighter in a store to perform this test, but if you have found an old coat in your grandmother's closet you might want to give this one a try. However, you could take a few strands home with you to test. If the fur smells like human hair burning, then you'll know it’s real fur. On the other hand, if it melts like plastic rather than burns, then its most likely faux.
- Part it. You can push the hairs to the side to get a closer look at the base where the hairs are attached. If the base is completely smooth like that of human skin, then its real.
What materials and brands should I wear instead? It is slowly becoming a trend in the fashion industry for big-name brands to announce they are going fur-free. Michael Kors, Hugo Boss, Versace, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, and of course Stella McCartney have all committed to going fur-free, and continue to influence other brands to follow suit. Some common retailers that are well-known for carrying true faux fur are Old Navy, Target, Gap Inc, and H&M. Pamela Anderson even launched her own cruelty-free line of boots in 2015 to rival those of UGG.
The good news is the world is changing. L.A. has vowed to ban the sale of fur within the city limits. London banned fur from their prestigious Fashion Week this past year. Every time we make a purchase we're voting for the kind of world we want to live in. So, let’s make it a more compassionate one. End the cruelty to animals this winter by wearing only our own skin and not that of an animal.
Based in Columbus, OH, Stephanie’s an avid animal rights advocate and PRANA Run’s Content Manager. She enjoys outreach events and exploring plant-based food options in the Columbus area. Have a suggestion? Let her know!