Coat without down or wool
What is important to me, despite the fact that H&M manufactures in developing countries, where workers’ rights and those concerning environmental protection doesn’t exist or aren’t enforced, it is usually assessed quite well on the lists of ethical manufacturers (Ethical Consumer, The Good Shopping Guide). Also in the context of animal-friendliness H&M looks not so bad. It is marked with “A like Awesome” by PETA. This category does not imply that the manufacturer completely resigns from animal materials, but for example that they resigned from angora or exotic leather, that they use mulesing-free wool or have a large number of vegan products.
Warm non-leather boots
I was struggiling for years to find non-leather boots. However, ever since I discovered Beyond Skin, which I’ve already introduced on this blog, buying shoes has become a pure pleasure. They are not a big brand yet, but they are known well enough to appear on the list of ethical producers by Marie Claire.
Cath Kidston suitcase
Kidston established her first store in West London in 1993. Today the brand has 136 outlets including their own boutiques, independent stores and stands at John Lewis department stores. Cath Kidston products can also be purchased via online retailers like Asos and Zalando. Currently, the majority of shares in the company belongs to TA Associates, but Cath Kidston remains a creative director of the brand.
Most of Cath Kidston products, including cosmetics, are vegan. Cath Kidston herself also seems to care about the environment. In 2008 she worked with Tesco to create ecological bags made of recycled plastic bottles. Thanks this action 6 million plastic bottles didn’t end up in the landfill and £500,000 was raised for the Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Why I don’t want to wear things with down?
With leather and meat it’s been straight forward for me – I’ve always known that it is a dead animal and I do not want to have anything to do with it. But I started thinking about wool and feathers (or down which lies beneath this protective covering of feathers) just recently.
Down didn’t seem so bad, because it’s not necessary to kill geese and ducks to get it. But actually ripping live animal’s feathers out, known as “live plucking.” might be the worst part about feather industry. Animals are frightened, plucking often leaves them with open wounds, which are then stitched when the birds are fully conscious. Also, buying products filled with natural feathers might increase profit of the companies producing foie grass and selling geese and ducks for meat as often these activities are connected. There is no way to determine whether down in our jacket comes from living or dead animals.
Why I won’t wear a wool coat?
Australia is the largest producer of wool in the world. Ninety percent of the 900 million sheep in Australia are Merino. It’s a breed popular because of their wrinkled skin that gives has a large amount of wool. Selective breeding favours more wrinkled animals, what is a threat to animals’ health.
Additionally, wrinkled skin is related with the practice of muelsing – cutting with scissors folds of skin from the tail area of a sheep. Officially it’s said it is intended to reduce fly strike. However, even though animal welfare organisations suggest many alternative methods mulesing is still widely used because it is the cheapest and quickest way of getting wool.
Another problem with the Australian sheep is that thousands of animals at the end of their “wool career” are sent to the slaughterhouses. They spend five-weeks inside crowded ships to get to the Middle East and North Africa. Some sources say that up to 30% of sheep die before the end of the trip because of fatigue, bad diet and diseases. Those that survive the journey reach countries where laws protecting animals almost don’t exist and are then transport, also in terrible conditions, to places of ritual slaughter.
Shall we resign from wool?
It seems that even not fully resigning from wool we can try to minimize the suffering of animals. Definitely it is worth to buy clothes from companies that stopped using Australian wool. These would include Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Gap Inc., H&M.
Lately, we can hear more and more about ecological wool. However, according to my knowledge it seems unlikely that it’d possible to produce wool on a massive scale in a way that would be sustainable for the environment and harmless for animals. I will try to research this topic and describe it in one of the next posts.
Personally, I will stay away from wool products, because of the link between the wool and meat industries as well as difficulties in checking the origin of the wool, especially that there is no international mark of eco-wool.