Fake Fur Real Fur

There is a recurring debate about the morality of wearing or using real animal fur versus fake/synthetic fur on grounds of animal welfare. It seems illogical for me to taint the use of fur as less moral than the use of other animal products.

Firstly, fake fur made from plastic also damages animal life and the environment. The tiny strands of plastic biodegrade very slowly, and in oceans undoubtedly cause more harm to animal and plant life than real fur.

Secondly, many animal products are used daily. What of leather? Do those who advocate stopping the use of animal fur also avoid the use of leather, or indeed wool? If leather were not used then the cow hides would be thrown away; a tragic waste of a resource taken from cows which we eat and would live and be slaughtered in the same manner whether their hide were used or not. Perhaps then an argument is that fur producing animals, such as mink, should be eaten, so that these were treated in the same manner as cows.

One might argue that the moral solution is not to eat cows either, and become vegan, on grounds of animal welfare, but this argument is also flawed on many grounds; there are no wild cows, the species is dependent on humans for its survival, and farmed cows undoubtedly have a better quality of life than wild animals. See my other article of vegetarianism for more on this.

Wool, because it does not require the killing of the sheep, may be considered acceptable compared to animal fur, but, of course, sheep are farmed to produce meat, milk, wool and, when they are slaughtered, their hide is also used. Like leather, casting aside the hide from an animal always destined to die would be wasteful, if not immoral in itself for these reasons, an insult to the sheep who died for a purpose.

Promoting and campaigning for farm animal welfare standards is a better way to improve animal welfare rather than the avoidance of fur. Those who buy fur have more influence upon the producers than those who do not, and fur, being a useful product, even if fashion trends change, would probably remain in demand, even if globally illegal. A ban, or tainting of the use of real fur, will harm animal welfare standards by driving such practices to unregulated areas. Good quality regulation of animal welfare in open, visible and politically accountable farms and societies is always the best solution for animal and environmental welfare, whether concerning wild animals, farm animals, or pets.

Mark Sheeky, 7 December 2020