A response to Mark Oaten's article "Faux fur is more than faux pas, it's poison".
Real fur sales are experiencing a dramatic drop since 2014 while the faux fur sector is enjoying a remarkable boom with a 10% increase in demand.
This might explain why Mark Oaten, head of the International Fur Trade Federation, has been constantly trying to denigrate the faux fur sector.
More and more fashion houses and even luxury brands are falling in love with faux fur. New technologies make it more lustrous and softer than ever. As the founder of a website and a blog dedicated to promote the use of faux fur in fashion, I had the opportunity to meet students in fashion schools to talk about faux fur in order to breakdown prejudices associated with that fabric. Most of them were already approached by the (real) fur industry, but many were happy to know more about faux fur and to be given smart opportunities to reduce their use of animals in their work.
Although avoiding factory farming is a significant step for many of them the question of the environmental impact of faux fur remains a crucial factor.
Faux fur is a smart choice
Mark Oaten said faux fur is poison.
This is not true, faux fur is the antidote. It gives the fashion industry an opportunity to spare millions of animals, it challenges their habit and encourages them to go outside of the comfort zone, it is much more creative to use faux fur than to simply use the fur of what once was a magnificent animal. Creativity is on the side of faux fur.
This message has been understood by many fashion designers including Sir Armani whose maison became 100% fur-free earlier this year.
Regarding the environmental question
We need to be honest not candid, fur is not a green product and never will be. Whether it's real or fake. Real fur items are loaded with chemicals, the final product is not more natural than "battery chicken" fed with hormones.
Faux fur has some interesting environmental benefits though.
Its production uses an oil residue. A by-product of oil already been extracted for people's cars. While today 1 billion cars are on road, the impact of faux fur is less than a drop in the ocean.
I agree with Mark Oaten on one thing. Synthetic fibers may not be a panacea for the environment and we need to protect our marine life with a better waste management system at a world level. But this is a global issue, not specific to faux fur.
No waste should ever be dumped in our precious nature.
They say it's a green product and yes it is, all our lakes are green!
said a local resident of Nova Scotia, a Canadian Province where hundreds of mink farms have been linked to significant environmental degradation for years.
In Asia too, numerous rivers are filled with black and Brown water and have been discolored for at least several months, according to National Business Daily, talking about what a local named a toxic industry.
Mark Oaten conveniently forgets that real fur production has been involved in serious environmental issues with no reported equivalent in faux fur production from dangerous bacteria spread in the nature to escaped mink being a major treat for the local ecosystem.
Regarding our oceans and rivers, plastic pollution certainly is a problem, it caused the death of 1,5 million animals in the world in 2013 according to the French Research Institute for Development (IRD)
But in the same time, the fur industry brought to death tens of millions of animals.
(150 millions estimated).
In Europe many faux fur manufacturers use a water cleaning system.
Facts and studies
A mink coat is said to require 1 000 litres of water, one of the world's most threatened natural resources. 25% of the world's climate change is caused by animal farming including fur farming.
To minimize greenhouses gases, it is as efficient to reduce our animal use than to simply try to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use. The lifespan of animals raised to be killed is one year so a sharp reduction in animal use would lead to almost immediate drops in methane emissions. On the other hand, the lifespan of a gas-guzzling industry is decades.
The carbon footprint of the production chain of a single piece of mink (28 Kg CO2 -eqv / pelt) or fox (83 Kg CO2 - eqv / pelt) is at the same level as the carbon footprint resulting from one to three days's average consumption of a consumer.
Such studies are predictably criticized by Mark Oaten and the fur industry in general. May the real problem be that until recently, all the studies available were commissioned by the fur industry ?
Other facts contradict Mark Oaten's crusade agains faux fur or deserve a more balanced approach. Mink carcasses may be used in some isolated parts of Europe to create biofuel, but biofuel can be obtained from other type of waste like algae or corn waste. Mink carcasses are not a necessity.
Faux fur lasts a lifetime and stay looking fresh, unlike real fur, it doesn't require the use of energy wasting storage facilities.
While being totally lifefriendly, the faux fur industry has never claimed to be ecofriendly unlike the real fur sector. When they did so, guess what happened? eco branding of fur was banned and ruled misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority of Great Britain in 2012.
Fur farming is prohibited in 5 european countries including the UK.
As far as I know, the production of faux fur is still allowed everywhere in the world.