With new fashions coming in and out of style quicker than ever, it's vitally important to ensure we are as ethical and sustainable with our shopping purchases as we can be. Animal textiles can be hidden in many clothing choices and accessories, which is why we aim to make it as easy as possible to identify, avoid, and find alternatives for wool, fur, down, and leather.
What do I have to consider when buying wool and woolen clothing?
There are many ethical considerations to be taken when purchasing wool products. One of these involves the process of "mulesing". The mulesing industry restrains lambs, at just a few weeks old, and cuts off the skin around the buttocks. This happens using shears and usually without anesthesia. This procedure is used in Australia, where most of the world's produced merino wool comes from. The reason for the mulesing is producers try to prevent flies from attacking their sheep.
FOUR PAWS vehemently opposes the use of mulesing and is campaigning to ensure that textile companies in the future either remove wool from their products or use only certified non-mulesed wool. Caution is also needed when purchasing wool yarns for self-knitted clothing. This is because wool yarns can come from Australian sheep who underwent the cruel mulesing procedure. Mulesing-free wool, which can be traced throughout the supply chain, is already being offered by major wool suppliers.
Other luxury fine-wool fabrics such as Angora, Mohair and Cashmere also come at great suffering to animals.
What should I look for in down products?
Down in jackets, pillows, quilts and similar products are usually derived from geese and ducks from intensive livestock farming. To make matters worse, the animals may be subjected to live feather plucking or force feeding for foie gras production. If the consumer wants to completely eliminate animal suffering, FOUR PAWS recommends resorting to down alternatives. Many alternatives now are similar in terms of warmth and quality to down.
Those still interested in down products, should pay attention to choosing down that's been certified by appropriate standards such as the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) or Global Traceable Down Standard (TDS) in order to exclude the cruel practices mentioned above.
How do I differentiate between real fur and fake fur?
Fur pompoms, fur trimming on hoods, collars, gloves or shoes: behind every little fur application hides enormous animal suffering. Real fur is not always labeled, but often declared as faux fur. The assumption that animal-friendly manufactured real fur exists is also a misconception. Certifications such as "ethically correct fur" or "animal-friendly" fur are merely names that the fur industry pushes and fashion manufacturers have used to promote the sale of these fur products.
FOUR PAWS is committed to a fur-free fashion future and is a member of the Fur Free Alliance (FFA), which is an international coalition of animal protection organizations working to end the killing and exploitation of animals for fur. Under the FFA, exists the Fur Free Retailer Program (FFRP) that identifies retailers that have committed themselves in writing to withdrawing from the sale of fur. The program aims to further the spirit of ethical fashion and provide shoppers with information about compassionate retailers.
And what about leather?
Similar to down feathers, leather is often perceived as a so-called by-product of meat production. But the production of leather is also associated with animal suffering. Information about where companies buy leather for shoes, belts or jackets, is usually very limited, if available at all. This emphasizes the fact that this lack of transparency often means the lack of animal welfare standards as well for the product.
FOUR PAWS is currently not aware of any company that transparently discloses their complete leather supply chain in terms of animal welfare aspects. Therefore, FOUR PAWS advises animal-friendly consumers to avoid buying or wearing leather products.
We Need More Compassion in Fashion!
To make kinder fashion choices, be sure to avoid other fibers like mohair and shop for animal-friendly alternatives. You could consider buying second-hand clothing from places such as charity shops, and if you are buying brand new, there are several sustainable alternatives you can choose when out shopping:
- Recycled acrylic - made from recycled plastic. This is the most widely used fabric for a wool alternative
- Recycled polyester – made from recycled plastic bottles. Also widely used and requires only 30% of the energy that polyester does
- Organic cotton – no use of chemicals or GMOs. Organic cotton products are produced without using harmful synthetic chemicals or additives
- TENCEL™ Lyocell – made from wood pulp. This is manufactured through an environmentally-friendly process and is biodegradable and recyclable… and many more!