NEW BLOG POST: The Future Is Fur-Free
A blog post by Josh Halliday
Ending fur in the United States is starting to look like an achievable goal. In October, Nordstrom announced it would be partnering with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to stop selling fur and exotic animal skin products, starting in 2021. Nordstrom joins Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and the entire state of California in saying no to fur.
Nordstrom’s decision will affect its own stores and brands as well as other brands Nordstrom carries; it will hurt these brands financially, as they will have less access to consumers. Dozens of other major brands, including Gucci, Chanel, Calvin Klein, and others, have started to adopt similar policies as more consumers are demanding it. NARN and other local activists likely had a hand in encouraging Nordstrom’s decision, as they have been protesting Nordstrom selling fur since the 1990s with such creative tactics as a funeral procession, marches through their flagship store, petitions, postcard campaigns, and regular protests. NARN partnered with groups such as In Defense of Animals, PETA. Animal Protection Institute, FARM, & others on these efforts .
Fur is an antiquated clothing choice that is coming to be regarded in the same vein as ivory. Every fur coat, hood, and boot is a product of cruelty and suffering. Eighty-five percent of the fur industry’s skins come from animals on fur factory “farms”—disgusting, filthy places where thousands of animals are packed into tiny wire cages for their entire lives. The conditions resemble those of caged chickens raised for slaughter. Many animals are driven to self-mutilation from mental anguish.
Recently, the conditions on these “farms” led to the Danish government ordering the country’s mink farms to cull more than 1 million of the animals following a series of COVID-19 outbreaks. At least two farmworkers are “extremely likely” to have contracted the coronavirus from mink, which makes this the first case of humans passing the virus to animals who then transmitted it back to humans. The mink could have contracted the virus from farmworkers through dust particles in the barn where the mink are kept. Some 3 million mink were farmed in the United States in 2018, according to the Humane Society International (HSI), and this year thousands of mink have died at farms in Utah and Wisconsin. Many are wondering if COVID-19 will drive the last nail into the mink fur trade.
The killing methods are often crueler than those in meat slaughterhouses. Preservation of the fur quality is paramount, so animals commonly are electrocuted—sometimes anally or genitally—even though this has been deemed “unacceptable” by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Other methods include beatings and poison. Sometimes, the animals are not killed initially and are skinned alive. The fur industry contributes to the suffering and death of more than 100 million animals worldwide every year. Undercover video footage of a fur farm, conducted by HSUS this year, is available here (warning: graphic).
Big changes are still to come. Not only are retailers starting to drop fur products, but governments have taken it upon themselves to ban the sale of fur within their boundaries. California was the first state to ban fur, doing so after many of its cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Berkeley, took the lead. Statewide ballot initiatives have prohibited the sale of other antiquated animal products. Washington passed Initiative 1401, which prohibited the purchase, sale, and distribution of products made from 10 endangered animals, with 70% support in 2015. Other states have followed suit and passed similar laws, both by ballot initiative and legislation.
NARN members and other local activists can continue to play a part in ending the sale of fur. We can continue to make choices that support retailers and brands that don’t sell fur. We can also let our representatives know we’re passionate about ending the sale of fur. Local activist efforts will continue popping up, and we can continue showing up to those demonstrations and signing those petitions. With our help, the future will be fur-free.