Animal rights or sustainable fashion?

When you need to decide whether natural fur or fake fur is the right choice, it often comes down to what is most important to you. For those who choose fake fur, the important matter is animal rights, but is it really that simple? A significant factor, that is left out of this equation is the matter of sustainability and animal welfare. Because what is it really that we need to protect and who says that the production of natural fur does not take the animals and their welfare in to account?

What is important?

When you look at the issue regarding natural fur and the assumption that it is a threat to animal rights, it can be a good idea to do some research about whether it is ethical to use and wear natural fur. In this case it is really a matter of what it takes to become ethically correct to use animal products in general. In a study of the sealing industry in Canada* it has been proven, that the majority of the public feel, that it is ethically correct to use the skin from animals, as long as the following conditions are obeyed.

The first condition is that the survival of the species should not be threatened. This is really about sustainability and that there is no future in using up the resources we need to survive. That is why multiple actions have been made to secure the survival of the species and one of these actions are regulation. Through regulation, the state decides in every country which animals are allowed to be hunted and when, to make sure, that all animal species and crops get the best living standards and can not extinct each other.

The other condition is, that there should not be any unnecessary pain and cruelty in connection with the killing. In this case it is really about animal welfare and this is a very important matter for the fur industry, and it is taken very seriously. The farm animals get good nutrition and care, so the fur can live up to and compete with the high standards on the market.

These good conditions that the animals have are also shown to the public at the popular Open Farming events in Denmark. This way the public get a chance to see that animal welfare is present in the fur industry when it comes to the farm animals, like mink in Denmark and fox in Finland. The fur from the other animals like rabbit, sheep, cow and reindeer are byproducts from the meat industry. This means, that the entire animal is used and not just the meat. This gives a minimum of waste.

The other animals like raccoon and zebra are wild animals that are captured in traps or dies naturally. The traps that are used for the raccoons are approved by specialized authorities, that ensure that the animal experiences less possible stress and pain during the catching.  The third condition is that the killing and use of the animals should have an important purpose. This is really about whether it is necessary to kill animals for their fur. As mentioned, a lot of our products are byproducts to the production of meat and this makes it a way to minimize waste.

Also, many animals are killed through regulation ordered by the state, to secure the survival of all species. In connection with regulation, it would be a shame to throw the skin away as waste and only use the meat for production or to feed the animals, that lives in nature. It is also proven that the use of animal fur has an important purpose in relation to sustainability.

The clothes, that are made of natural materials, can degrade themselves in nature and has no environmental risks. The alternative is clothes made of synthetic plastic fibers made of petroleum. This is, as the opposite to natural skin and fur, neither environmentally good nor sustainable. It is a resource, that cannot be degraded.

The fourth condition is that the killing should have a minimum of waste. This is actually about the false assumption that when you take fur from an animal, the remains of the animal will not be used. This is very far from the truth. A lot of the skins are as mentioned biproducts to the meat industry and the other animals that are not used as meat will be returned to nature where they will be eaten by other animals and function as nutrition for them.

To narrow this down to a simpler view, this ethical issue is really about what is most important. Is it that the animals have their own rights so humans cannot dispose over their resources and living conditions or is it sustainability? At NATURES Collection we care a great deal about sustainability, but just as much about animal welfare, so that we can vouch for our products. In this case it is also important to mention, that the treatment of the fur contains very mild chemicals, to secure the quality of the fur.

Transparency in the fur industry

But how do you ensure that every fur farmer lives up to the strong demands on animal welfare and how do you make sure that the wild animals who live freely in nature are secured as well? The fur business has taken initiative to introduce control of the animal welfare at the farms and this initiative is called WelFur.

WelFur is a scientific certification system that bases its protocol on 4 principles; Good housing, Good feeding, Good health and Appropriate behavior. The many farmers are measured and evaluated and gets a good basis for documenting high animal welfare at the farms. The project takes place all over Europe and meets the fashion industry and the consumers demands for transparency and documentation of the animal welfare in the fur business. 

It is the trade organization FurEurope that is behind this initiative in cooperation with scientists from 7 universities in Europe. Besides WelFur we need to mention IFF – The International Fur Federation, which is the only organization, that represent the fur business and regulates its practices and trade. The organization has 56 members distributed in 40 countries. Every member has the responsibility to make sure that their country lives up to the regulations.

The latest international certification we want to mention is Furmark which will be launched in 2020. This certification is about securing that the different members of the fur industry lives up to specific demands on sustainability and animal welfare. Furmarks key issues are high environmental demands for wastewater treatment and coloring of the fur.

Also, to ensure human health and the environment, Furmark has made restrictions on which chemicals that are allowed to be used. This makes Furmark a label, that combines animal welfare with environmental- and human health. With all of these initiatives and controls, we can be sure that the high standards in animal welfare is maintained in the fur business.

Nature’s got it

Sustainability has a high priority in the world today and this is noticeable in the fur business. To many it is about saving the planet from the many environmental effects we inflict on it ourselves. It is a very important matter for many because in the end, it is crucial for securing our own survival. In order to secure the earth, we have to prioritize and use the natural materials, that can degrade themselves in nature or be reused. This is actually a part of the natural food chain.

Many animal- and plant species produce more offspring than their habitat can take and that is why the weak are used as nutrition for the others. It might sound harsh for some people, but it creates a natural flow, that we as humans should not change, just because it provokes our beliefs and our culture. This is why we at NATURES Collection choose to focus on animal welfare and sustainability.

The core in our belief is that nature gives us the resources we need, without exploiting the vital resources of the earth. In other words, we respect nature and its ecosystem and use the resources it gives to us. This makes NATURES Collection and the fur business in general an important player in the necessary battle against climate change.  

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Longevity has shown to be one of the most influential parameters for improving environmental impacts. In other words: the longer a product lasts, the smaller its annual environmental impact will be. Choose carefully. Buy natural. Make it last.