ANIMALS IN FASHION
Each year more than a billion animals are slaughtered for their skins, furs and hides. This includes 1 billion rabbits and 50 million other animals -- including foxes, seals, mink and dogs -- all raised on fur farms or trapped in the wild. 30 million animals are raised in cages worldwide and 10 million wild animals are trapped using a steel-jawed, leg-trap hold, which is notorious for its cruelty. Methods of killing these animals include breaking the animal's neck, gassing, lethal injection, genital electrocution and anal electrocution. About 80% of the worlds fur/leather/down come from China and India, where there is no or a lack of animal welfare legislation. Turning skin into leather uses dangerous chemicals, including mineral salts, formaldehyde, and coal-tar derivatives.
Animal abuse within the fashion industry comes in two parts: one part tortures the animal directly objectifying it for its fur, its skin, or its hide, while the other part harms animals by polluting their habitat and disrupting their food chains. In both circumstances, the processes involved in fashion production make it impossible for these animals to live wild and free.
Every year large numbers of animals, including cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, crocodiles, snakes, stingrays, seals, emus, kangaroos, horses and more are killed for their skins by the leather industry. Factory farmed animals experience immense torture at the hands of the workers, such as: extreme crowding, confinement and deprivation, castration, branding, tail-docking, dehorning - all without any painkillers, as well as live skinning and dismembered while they are still conscious. Some workers break cows’ tails and rub chilli peppers and tobacco into their eyes in order to force them to get up and walk after they collapse from exhaustion on the way to the slaughterhouse.
Leather is a profitable resource, NOT simply a buy-product of the meat industry. Raising livestock is an environmentally intensive process that uses tons of water; releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas and is the primary driver of deforestation in Brazil. Furthermore, leather tanning is notoriously toxic. Leading to water pollution and deadly consequences to the locals living near by and using the water for their daily needs. It requires heavy metals like chromium to render leather supple and luxurious, but these chemicals can be lethal if not carefully controlled and treated. The livestock sector is the world’s largest user of agricultural land.
Apart from sheep wool also comes from goats, rabbits, camels, llamas, alpaca, bison and yak. According to statistics Australia (which produces much of the world’s merino wool), had sheered over 74.3 million she between the years of 2016-2017. Whilst farmers may argue that this is an acceptable procedure most sheep undergo a painful and largely ineffective procedure called mulesing in which flesh is cut in a crescent shape from each side of the animals buttocks often without anaesthetic. It takes four weeks for wounds to heal, causing pain and distress to the sheep. Within weeks of birth, lambs’ ears are hole-punched, tails are chopped off, males between 2 and 8 weeks old are castrated without anaesthetics, either by making an incision and cutting their testicles out or with a rubber ring used to cut off blood supply—one of the most painful methods of castration possible. When the lambs’ testicles don’t fall off as expected, shearers often just cut them off with clippers. Shearers are usually paid by volume, not by the hour, which encourages fast, violent work without regard for the welfare of the sheep. Shearers cut broad swaths of skin off some animals—and crudely stitched up the most gaping wounds right there on the filthy shearing floor, without providing any pain relief whatsoever. According to a witness’ eye statement, “strips of skin—and even teats, tails, and ears—are often cut or ripped off during shearing, with sheep having half their faces shorn off. The wool industry also produces massive amounts of methane, erodes the soil, and contaminates waterways.
Karakul Lamb Fur
Karakul lamb fur is, according to one fashion editor, “the cruelest and most vicious fur.” Designer Stella McCartney has likened wearing it to “wearing a foetus.” Also called “Astrakhan” or “Persian wool,” it comes from lambs who are killed as new-borns or while still in their mothers’ wombs. Because their unique, highly prized curly fur begins to straighten within three days of birth, many Karakul lambs are slaughtered when they are only 1 or 2 days old. In order to obtain the skin of a Karakul foetus—which is also called “broadtail” in the industry and valued for its smoothness—the mother’s throat is cut and her abdomen slashed open to extract the unborn lamb.
Animals including rabbits, minks, goats, foxes, crocodiles, alpacas, llamas, and even dogs and cats are coveted by the fashion industry. Fur also includes the fibres cashmere and angora, which are sourced from the Cashmere goat and the Angora rabbit. Animals Australia found that 85% of the fur industry’s skins come from animals raised in battery cages in fur farms.” Fur farmed animals are locked in small cages, sitting in their own faeces and urine (that emit harmful gases that make the animals sick), starving, and waiting to be killed by cruel practices that consist of electrocution, suffocation, gas, physical beatings, or even poisoning them with strychnine. This chemical causes suffocation and painful paralysation of their muscles and limbs. Inhumanely brutal electrocution performed on animals in fur farms is done by forcefully inserting rods into their mouths and anuses, in order to limit damage to the fur. It is even common practice in China to skin animals alive. A lot of animals experience psychological trauma and many of them go insane, by mutilating themselves and those around them. Millions of raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, beavers, and other fur-bearing animals are killed every year by trappers. The steel jawed traps slam down on their legs, often cutting to the bone; conibear traps, which crush their necks with 90 pounds of pressure per square inch; or water-set traps, which leave beavers, muskrats, and other animals struggling for more than nine agonising minutes before drowning. Angora rabbits are first sheared or plucked when they are just 8 weeks old, and they are subjected to the same terrifying ordeal every few months following that. After two to five years, rabbits who have survived this repeated abuse are hung upside down, their throats are slit, and their bodies are sold for meat. In China, there’s a thriving cat- and dog-fur industry. Cats and dogs are bludgeoned, hanged, and sometimes even skinned alive for their fur. Millions of pounds of faeces are produced annually by U.S. mink farms alone. One dangerous component of this waste is nearly 1,000 tons of phosphorus, which pollutes nearby rivers and streams. Fur requires numerous toxic chemicals for preservation and dyeing, which can be extremely harmful for the natural environment, workers and the oceans. According to The World Bank, the hazardous process of fur dressing is so problematic that the fur industry is now ranked as one of the world’s five worst industries for toxic-metal pollution. Fur farms care about cutting costs, not animal rights.
The snakes, alligators, crocodiles, and other reptiles who are killed for their skins suffer immensely. Snakes are commonly nailed to trees and their bodies are cut open from one end to the other as they are skinned alive, in the belief that live flaying keeps the skins supple. Their mutilated bodies are then discarded, but because of these animals’ slow metabolism, it can take hours for the snakes to die. Lizards are often decapitated, and some writhe in agony as the skin is ripped from their bodies. Most alligator skins come from farmed animals which are raised in crowded tanks or pools of fetid, stinking water. The animals are shot or crudely bludgeoned with hammers. Workers sometimes use a mallet and chisel to sever crocodiles’ spinal cords—which paralyzes, but does not kill, the animals.
Down feather is prized by the fashion industry for its low carbon footprint and its ability to insulate against freezing temperatures. Down comes from ducks, geese and swans. This is done either while the birds are still alive, or after they have been killed. Because farmers have to meet large demands, and because, like fur or hair, feathers grow back, most down is obtained by live plucking. This is a very painful process that sometimes causes the birds to accidentally break their limbs as they struggle to escape. PETA estimate that a single farm can undertake close to 250,000 live plucking a year. They also found that some suppliers certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) are still sourcing live-plucked down. The animals are typically lifted by their necks or delicate wings, their legs are physically restrained or tied, and their feathers are ripped right out of their skin. The struggling birds are often plucked so hard that their skin is torn open and the hurried workers sew up the wounds using needle and thread and no painkillers. Plucking may begin when the animals are just 10 weeks old and be repeated in six-week intervals until the birds are slaughtered for meat.
Silk has been revered as a luxury for thousands of years. Silk is made up of the threads that form the cocoon of the mulberry silkworm (Bombyx mori). The threads are extracted by boiling the cocoon with the pupae still inside. Silk is the animal fabric that many people don't even consider - but the truth is that over 6,6 thousand silkworms die to produce just one kilogram of silk. The current production of silk on a global scale is estimated to be about 200,000 metric tons. Sometimes silkworms are boiled alive in their cocoons in order to harvest the silk - and so-called 'peace silk' or 'ahimsa silk' is not always the solution. The use of silk isn't eco-friendly, either: recently, the Pulse of Fashion Industry Report found silk to be second most polluting material (after cow's leather) when analysed for cradle-to-gate impact (from the obtaining of raw materials to the final stage when the product reaches the consumer).