Everywhere we hear about the severe problems of plastic-use in the fashion industry and quickly forget that the leather and fur industry are actually more harmful to the environment.
I believe that animals don't belong in fashion production in any form. Looking into “Who are my clothes?” instead of “Who made my clothes?”, I am looking into the most misleading rumors of the fur industry and the true facts behind them.
1. Fur is NOT natural
Real fur is an organic product which is often associated with being “natural”. Nevertheless, various chemicals like ammonia, formaldehyde, hydrogen peroxide, and other chromates and bleaching agents are added to prevent the fur from rotting and to preserve and dye it. 1
2. Fur is NOT biodegradable
Although the chemicals used in the tanning process known as "dressing” are needed to prevent the fur from rotting, they are a reason why the fur doesn't biodegrade. A study of the fur industry says that only a modest fraction of the “real” furs used for an experiment decompose. 6
3. Fur dressing is toxic
According to The World Bank, Fur Dressing is one of the world's five worst industries for toxic-metal pollution. 4
4. Fur clothes are toxic for workers and those who wear them
The main chemical in the dressing is formaldehyde which is linked to leukemia and chromium which is linked to cancer. Fur workers are exposed to toxic chemicals in the process of tanning, cleaning and dyeing fur. Researchers found in a study from 2014 that fur and leather workers faced a significantly increased risk of colon cancer. 5
“New research, commissioned by Dutch Fur Free Alliance member Bont voor Dieren, tested children’s wear of well-known brands as Canada Goose, Versano, Woolrich, Nickelson and Airforce. All of the brands, that were tested by the German independent research laboratory Bremer Umweltinstitut, reveal high levels of formaldehyde and ethoxylates, which can cause allergies, cancer and hormonal imbalance.” 6
5. Fur is NOT a byproduct of the meat industry
Eighty-five percent of the fur industry’s skins come from animals on fur factory farms.
Factory Farm´s are running on a daily basis with the interest of maximizing profits which goes hand in hand with little care for the animals and the environment. 2
6. Fur industry uses agonizing slaughter methods
The value, and therefore profit, of the fur directly correlates to the rarity of the animal and the quality of the fur which results in slaughter methods that limit damage to the fur but are agonizing for the animal. In order to limit the damage of the fur, animals are executed by Gassing, Neck Breaking, Clubbing, Trapping, Injection with Poisons and Anal Electrocution. Anal Electrocution is the process during which an electrically charged steel rod is inserted into an animal’s rectum which “Literally Frying His or Her Insides Alive.” 3 New York State is the first state that has banned electrocuting fur-bearing.
7. Fur industry contributes to environmental pollution
Denmark is the leading fur producing country where approximately more than 19 million animals are killed annually which equates to more than 8,000 pounds of ammonia that is released into the atmosphere. 1
On websites such as the International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF), you can find articles describing why fur is a sustainable fabric and I am sure that there are also lots of industry-funded studies that prove the opposite of my research which causes irritation and the spread of misleading information. Based on my 7 listed facts above, there is no reason to describe fur as a green, sustainable or natural material.
1 Peta Website: Wool, Fur, and Leather: Hazardous to the Environment, last viewed
2 Peta Website: Inside the Fur Industry: Factory Farms, 05.05.2020
3 STOP FUR TRADE – PROTECTION 4 ANIMALS WORLDWIDE, 22.01.2013
4 The Guardian: Is the fur trade sustainable?, 29.10.2013
5 National Center for Biotechnology Information: Occupational exposures and colorectal cancers: A quantitative overview of epidemiological evidence, 2014 Sep 21 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4168076/
6 Fur Free Alliance: FUR ON CHILDREN’S WEAR FULL OF TOXICS, 11.01.2016