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Michael Parrish DuDell Headshot

Fur: The Anti-Green Textile of the Season

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Recent chilly gusts and snowy falls have prompted frigid citizens across the globe to reach deep into their musty closets, in search of the perfect winter garment. While most earth-conscious consumers are mindful of eco fabrics, a few sneaky textiles have managed to stay hidden behind the false guise of sustainability, namely, fur.

Many believe that fur must be "natural" or "eco-friendly," since it's quite literally the skin of an animal. However, there exists a plethora of well-documented data that proves, without a doubt, fur cannot possibly be good for the planet.

The Encyclopedia of International Labor Organization states that chemicals commonly used to process fur include acids, hydrogen peroxide, chromates, formaldehyde, bleaching agents, and various types of dyes. The need for this bubbling bath of dangerous preservatives makes sense: how else could the skin of an animal remain intact, void of decay, without such a noxious fusion of toxic chemicals? It couldn't.

What's more, the massive amount of energy used for housing, tanning, cutting, dying and transportation gives fur an even heftier environmental price tag. In fact, a study done by Gregory H. Smith, an engineer with the Ford Motor Company, found that it requires 15 times more energy to produce a fur coat from ranched animals than it does to manufacture it's faux counterpart.

Then, of course, there's the issue of resources. Obviously, animals, like humans, consume food and water. Since it takes roughly 150 lbs. of animal flesh to make one fur coat, and small mammals eat about 10 percent of their body weight each day, it would be safe to assume that 3000 lbs. of food is required to feed the animals that produce just one coat. Now, take this formula and plug in the 45 million animals that are killed each year for their fur, and you'll quickly see why this equation is highly disastrous for Mother Earth.

One must also consider the waste generated by each of these 45 million animals. The EPA warns that waste from fur processing plants "may cause respiratory problems, and are listed as possible carcinogens." Because of irresponsible furriers, this "carcinogenic" byproduct is a major culprit in the pollution and poisoning of local waterways. In 1999, for instance, the Washington Department of Ecology fined a mink farmer $24,000 for polluting a local creek. Although this was an isolated incident, numerous records exist that show similar abuses throughout global communities.

When one carefully examines the whole picture, the reality is far too clear to ignore: fur simply cannot be considered a sustainable textile. So yes, I know it's cold outside and sometimes that fur coat might look tantalizing, but with so many sustainable options available -- including high quality faux-fur from companies like Imposter -- the responsible environmentalist has no choice but to boycott this wasteful product.

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