08/03/2011 10:30 am ET Updated Oct 03, 2011

Friend or Faux: When Faking It Is Something to Be Proud of

Rewind 100 years when fur was the most desired item of clothing for the wealthy -- when basically you weren't worth anything unless you wore fur. Now fast-forward to today, where wearing fur has been protested for the past 60 years, yet, it is still a fashionable item to many, and in some ways is making a comeback. Sites selling brands like Juicy Couture and Marc Jacobs are beginning to sell fur again, in the form of $2,000 fur coats, and animal skin handbags of crocodile and python.

Skins have made a comeback as well, especially crocodile skin wallets, shoes and handbags, which have once again become a status symbol for those who can afford it. But many who can afford it instead choose to opt for a cruelty-free and animal-friendly substitute; faux fur and faux skins. Which surprisingly can be quite expensive, because they are hand cut, hand crafted and hand finished, to ensure quality workmanship so that it is unable to be distinguished from real fur. While still one-tenth of the price of real fur, with no conscience-stricken feelings of guilt when buying it.

But where do you find this quality faux fur compared to the cheap stuff you see in stores? I discovered Fabulous Furs, a company created by a woman who didn't want to support the killing of animals but loved the feel of fur, so she started a faux fur clothing line in her basement which expanded into a successful online store with hundreds of faux fur coats, vests, rugs, etc, that also donates to hundreds of non-profits and hosts fund-raising events every year. Faux animal skin items are also easy to find in most stores for very reasonable prices, but if you're looking for more realistic, expensive faux skins, shop at designer stores like CC Skye and Tory Burch, who have lots of faux snake, lizard and croc bags and shoes for prices usually under $500.

The biggest factor in determining the popularity of wearing fur is that a lot of people don't actually know the process of which their fur coat was made, assuming that the animal only died of natural causes and was never killed just for its coat. But this is a common misconception, encouraged by big fur companies. Many fur-bearing animals are killed daily on fur farms by anal and vaginal electrocution, which ultimately fries their insides, and in the wild by drowning, beating, stomping or trapping. These ways to kill the animal are used as to do as little damage to the fur as possible. The pelts are then coated with many harsh and toxic chemicals to keep them from decomposing and losing their shine.

Fur farms are among the worst places on earth for an animal. Reading articles about these places and what happens to the animals is so horrifying and emotionally disturbing that I could no longer go on reading. To inform yourself on the truth about fur, here are a few must-read articles on Fur Farms, Fur Facts, and Trapping Animals for Fur. More than half of the fur items sold in the United States come from China, where the fur industry is absolutely horrific, mostly due to the fact that there are no laws against animal cruelty on fur farms in China. The Chinese Fur Industry is the world's largest, and before buying a fur item again, it is crucial you are fully aware of what goes on in these Chinese fur farms. Animals are kept in tiny wire cages their entire lives, and when their life is up and it's their turn to be made into a coat, undercover investigators from Swiss Animal Protection/EAST International found that after they are pulled from their cages and bludgeoned that many animals are still alive and struggling desperately, when workers flip them onto their backs or hang them up by their legs or tails to skin them.

You can help stop this inhumane and horrifying slaughter of animals for their furs and skins. And donating money or fund-raising are not the only ways to help put a stop to this. You, as one individual, alone refusing to buy fur your entire life, are making a huge difference, saving as many as 100 or more animals. Because not only are you not buying fur yourself, you are taking part in lowering the demand for fur. Small things like signing a petition like the Fur Free Pledge on the Humane Society website can do a lot more than you think, for the more people who do small things, the bigger the difference.