Fur is “Green”?

When going “green” becomes the latest in corporate fashion, who better to jump on the bandwagon than, well, the fashion industry?
Check out this website, from the Fur Council of Canada, which claims that if you really love the environment, you’ll show it by wearing fur: Furisgreen.com

A new vision of fur, for an Eco-Conscious World!

Fur is warmth, comfort and beauty. For many, fur is the ultimate luxury. But using fur also makes sense if we want to protect nature while supporting people and cultures.

The reference to “people and cultures” is a reference to the fact that for some people in rural regions (and especially native populations in the far north), fur-trapping is a major source of income and a way of life. But how is fur “green?”

The website admits that “few products can be 100% “green” (if only because fossil fuels are used to bring them to the market),” but “environmentally friendly apparel and accessories should be made from natural materials” that have certain characteristics, characteristics that animal furs have. Namely, according to the website…

  • Fur is Renewable
  • Fur is Durable, long-lasting
  • Fur is Reusable, recyclable
  • Fur is Biodegradable
  • Fur is Energy & Resource efficient

(The site has pages of information about each of those claims. Plenty of fodder for fact-checking by skeptics.)

The reason this “fur is green” campaign will be jarring to some is that there tends to be considerable overlap between a) being an avowed environmentalist and b) being against the fur trade. It may strike some as a form of “greenwashing” — but that would be unfair, if the environmental claims made on behalf of fur are sound.

But evaluating the fur business, from an ethical point of view, is more complicated than that. There are really 3 key issues: environmental impact, support for indigenous cultures, and animal cruelty. I suspect (but it’s just a guess) that the Fur Council can make a pretty good case in two out of three of those areas. Can we find agreement on which two, and on which two matter the most?

4 comments so far

  1. Anonymous on

    It would depend on all the energy and food needed to raise fur-bearing animals on a farm versus the amount of energy to make fake fur or other clothing. Without knowing those facts, I can’t comment but a locally made fur coat (and women love them) might take less resources than a parka made of of polyester, a petroleum product — and a parka made far away from Nova Scotia. It does not keep me awake at night.

  2. MacGregor on

    You bring up a great topic. Consider the list of eco-friendly reasons why http://www.Wild-Wool.com is eco-friendly. In addition to all the arguments the fur industry has, Wild-Wool is fur spun with locally raised wool in New Zealand. The fur is on an invasive species that is causing ecological havoc. Moreover, the only other method of eradication is inhumane to all animals and potentially toxic to the environment.

  3. Coşkun Hürsel on

    I am sorry for resurrecting an old post, but I think the point you raise deserves more attention in the public arena.

    According to a frequently cited PETA statement, “The amount of energy needed to produce a real fur coat from ranch-raised animal skins is approximately 15 times that needed to produce a fake fur garment.” I wonder how they came up with that number, but I suspect there is a fair bit of exaggeration, just as you are rightly skeptical about the “fur is green” website’s claims.

    I am sure PETA only considered energy needed to “produce” a fake fur garment, conveniently forgetting the fact that the raw material for fake fur (or, most other synthetic fabrics, for that matter) is petroleum, which ITSELF is energy!

    Hence, taking these considerations into account, the ratio of energy needed to produce a real vs fake fur garment should be substantially less than 15. When you figure the amazing longevity of fur garments (easily above 20 years), it is easy to see that wearing real fur leaves a smaller carbon footprint.

  4. MacGregor on

    I agree with Coskun–and also consider the energy necessary to dispose of the petroleum based piece of clothing that will never biodegrade. Even in the best case scenario where a precious low percentage is recycled to make a new garment, it would be shipped across the ocean twice and reworked in a poison spewing mill with a poor human rights labor record.

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