Synthetic Fur is a Setback to Sustainable Fashion
Giorgio Armani is the latest fashion label to kneel down to the demands of animal rights activists. Armani joins Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren in switching to synthetic alternatives. This is a major setback not only fashion industry but to sustainable fashion and eco-friendly future. In this social media meme driven society, it’s very important than ever before to depend on science for knowledge. It’s important to get our information from real sources – Veterinarians, fur farmers and designers. Not “activists” set on implementing agendas on the public. These activists often lack scientific expertise of the domain area and the derivative morals are often hazardouz. Fashionistas need to wake up to the environmental impact of faux-fur production and its devastating contribution to biggest problem the eco-system is facing – climate change.
Faux fur is made from non-renewable petroleum-based products, such as nylon, acrylic and polyester, then treated with heat and chemicals to improve its look and feel.
These industrial processes use three times as much non-renewable energy as real fur.
The petroleum industry accounts for the direct deaths of millions upon millions of living beings each year, from birds and sea mammals to the tiny microscopic beings that make up the backbone of ocean ecosystems.
Faux fur end up in landfill and, just like petroleum-based plastic bags, can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Larger wildlife can get entangled in plastic waste which can drown or starve them; they also eat it, which can cause painful deaths through intestinal blockage or rupture, or even longer, horrible deaths through starvation since they can no longer fit real food into their stomachs. And the same thing happens to tiny plankton, which are absolutely crucial to the health of the entire ocean. Even if your coat ends up in a landfill, the plastics can be washed into the water system as they break down, creating the same marine problems.
Washing fake fur may harm the environment, too. With every machine wash, says a 2011 paper for the Environmental Science & Technology journal, each garment releases an average of 1,900 tiny particles of plastic, which are then swilled into rivers, lakes and, eventually, the sea. These particles kill marine life and disrupt food chains.
Disposable fashion often relies on Third World sweatshop labour, paltry wages and toxic working conditions. The manufacture of fake fur doubles the risk of ill-health in workers due to the emissions of carcinogenic substances during production.
Faux fur and fast fashion is promoting dependence on foreign oil and exacerbating child-labour issues in the Third World.
The bigger question that arises now is if natural fur is free of pollutants and other environmental impacts? NO! However, the industrial process that goes behind manufacturing faux fur is way too hazardous than natural fur. Fur is what nature provided us and for sustainable development we need to work with natural eco-friendly products and not destroy the nature with cheap synthetic alternatives.
Being a resident of hot & humid India, I don’t use fur (both faux and natural), but that’s no reason to deny natural fur to someone else who needs it. It’s one of the most fundamental laws of nature where every animal specie explores and exploits another. A cuckoo exploits a crow’s ability to build a nest. A rodent tries to exploit the kitchen you built. We kill the insects with pesticides when they exploit our farms.
In most cases, morals are often dictated by an individual’s personal needs. Someone against natural fur is happy to use leather. Someone else who is against leather is happy to use cosmetics tested on animals. Another individual who is against cosmetic testing on animals is ready to use medicines that are tested on animals. I am yet to meet an animal rights activists who boycotted medicines tested on animals and chose to die instead. Due to air pollution the population of sparrows in urban cityscape has decreased drastically and that didn’t stop many of these self-proclaimed animal rights activists from giving up cars to take public transport and minimise the pollution levels. Eventually these morals boil down to individual needs, wants and comfort. However it’s our duty to not destroy the planet itself in the process. We are here because our ancestors primarily used natural products (including fur) and it didn’t impact the eco-system, working of the planet. We owe it to our future generations and millions of other species that co-exist in planet earth. Use natural fur over faux fur for the sake of animals. For the sake of planet earth. Natural fur is part of eco system, biodegradable, sustainable and renewable. REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE is the key to fight climate change!