Friday, August 19, 2011

Canadian fur not so green

Furisgreen.com (campaign from the fur council of canada) has been pushing fur as 'eco fashion', as a guilt free fashion item to...fight global warming? To illustrate with a mind numbing examble from the youtube channel of beautifully canadian:




As you can see the fur is green campaign claims a lot of things: fur is green, fur is sustainable, animal welfare and the environment are important to the fur industry,... They don't back up their claims with facts. They don't even make a good case, but they are good at being vague and using simple 'truths' and slogans. Unfortunately many people seem to pick up their slogans - I'm looking at you fashionista folks - and accept them on face value.

After all, simple truths are simple innit?. So they can't be wrong. Just check out this fur loving environmental activist

What a shame that the campaign doesn't back up their claims with hard facts and numbers (would love to see some), but of course facts aren't catchy and trendy. So no need to bother...

fur is green

Worldwide, the fur industry is an excellent example of an industry based on sustainable use. All the furs used by the trade are abundant and absolutely no endangered species are used. This is assured by strict provincial/state, national and international regulations.

An excellent example of an industry based on sustainable use? I guess we have to take their word for it... or maybe not: fur farming and pollution

manure, carcasses and waste feed from largely unregulated and ever-expanding mink farms in Yarmouth and Digby counties in southwest Nova Scotia have been allowed to seep untreated into local watercourses for years.

I thought it was a well regulated industry? Especially in Canada? Maybe not so green and sustainable after all? Unless you ignore the facts and rather believe eye-catching and superficial marketing campaigns.

This industry is now expanding here and throughout the Atlantic Provinces, and now others are taking notice of the waste-management problems associated with this industry. It’s time for all levels of government to act on this issue.

The David Suzuki foundation is tackling the issue of fur farming and pollution and sent a protest letter to Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter and Nova Scotia Mink Breeders Association President Earl Prime: clean up fur-farming industry and protect water quality

Several studies in Nova Scotia have found the following:

The studies found that some of the lakes had more than 1,000 times the amounts of phosphorus and fecal coliforms normally found in natural water bodies.

Again: Is this green? Is fur sustainable and - as furisgreen.com says - 'eco-logical'? And this isn't china, this is Canada. A country that supposedly regulates the fur industry and where the fur trade is 'responsible', 'green' and carries the fur industry label origin assured.

The David Suzuki foundation technical brief also contains some interesting facts that shed a new light on this fur is green hype: The impacts of the mink industry on freshwater lakes in Nova Scotia:
An overview of concerns
(PDF)

There are approximately 40 mink operations with 1.4 million mink located near the headwater of
the Carleton River. The industry has grown by about 415 per cent since 1997. The Nova Scotia
mink industry has seen a steady climb in profit in recent year

So it is getting worse thanks to the increased popularity of fur... I thought the industry was getting more responsible, which makes people buy more fur. Or people are buying more fur because they are made to believe things that just aren't true, because millions and millions of dollars are going to marketing and providing young fashion designers with free fur to use in their designs.

The technical brief contains some startling numbers:

approximately 18,200 tonnes of manure will be produced annually by
the mink. This will include 455 tonnes of phosphorus and 910 tonnes of nitrogen from the manure
as well as 16,380,000 liters of urine annually that can affect surface and groundwater in the
watershed area. This does not take into account any phosphorus or nitrogen produced from waste
feed or chemical agents used in the farming process.

Remember, this is just for one area of Canada. The global fur industry is far bigger. Just imagine the sheer amount of pollution in the name of fashion, hypes and trends.

An example of the well regulated fur industry in Canada:

“Runoff flows into a 10 acre wet pasture that borders a stream”
“Runoff flows through the woods approximately 30 feet from the lake”
“Runoff flows into woods it is approximately 200 yards to the neighbouring lake”
“Runoff flows through the woods and into a natural wetland which flows into
Porcupine Lake”
All of these practices were deemed acceptable by the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture.

After reading this post, do you think it is justified saying fur is eco fashion?

Do you?




Fur is green: greenwashing

I found this terrific blogpost the other day on the greenwashing blog on the campaign fur is green. You can read the full post here: Fur is Green: A Desperate Greenwash from the Fur Council of Canada

Claiming that fur and fur-trimmed products are “green”, “ecological”, or “environmental” is the equivalent of saying, “have a nice day”. There are no restrictions or regulations on using these terms and the fur industry has no independent endorsement or certification of its so-called commitment to the environment or “eco” practices.

This quote marks the spot exactly!

The fur trade will claim that no endangered species are used in their fur products, as if this was a commendable feature. But refraining from intentionally harming or killing endangered species is the LAW, and following the law is a bare minimum requirement of all industries!

Indeed. We are supposed to applaud them for not killing off endangered species. Well you can call me responsible too then. I didn't kill of any endangered species in writing (and publishing!) this blogpost. You see? I'm responsible now...

Monday, August 15, 2011

fur is green: factsheet

Revevalp på liggehylle

picture: Nettverk for dyrs frihet (Net. for Animal Freedom)

The fur trade likes to market fur as ecological ... as a responsible choice made by people to protect the environment. Of course by marketing fur in this way they are simply jumping the corporate greenwash bandwagon. Many corporations and sectors are trying to portray themselves as 'green', now that the public is becoming more and more aware of environmental problems and its dangers.

I've blogged about the attempts made by the fur industry to brand their red fur green before here and here

But I felt like something was missing. A good old fashion Q & A or an old fashioned factsheet...hence this post. I will also add this as a page on my blog and update this regulary with more information.

Lets get to it:

On the furisgreen.com campaign website they've set up an Q & A section where they explain their arguments in short order.

fur is green: questions and answers about fur

1. Questions about fur

Fur is green:

We want people to know that fur is an excellent choice if you care about nature -- because fur is a natural, renewable resource. The Canadian fur trade is very well regulated to ensure animal welfare. The furs we use are abundant; never from endangered species.


Good animal welfare on fur farms? The farms are virtually the same in europe as they are in north-america. And it doesn't look good from a welfare point a view. To name but one example as to why animal welfare is insufficient: veterinarians want to ban fur farming

Norwegian veterinarians:

Todays fur farming practices are based on keeping active predators confined in small wire mesh cages. This means that animals cannot act in a natural way.

But what do vets know right?

Never from endangered species? That's great because it would be against the law to use fur of endangered species, so you wouldn't even be able to sell it in the stores. Aren't they merciful? They don't take animals from the wild that they aren't allowed to trap.

Problem is that most animals are raised for fur and not trapped in the wild. Don't take my word for it, just check out the international fur trade federation's website on farmed fur

Farmed furs are the mainstay of the fur trade, accounting for some 85 per cent of the industry's turnover. Production figures for mink and fox farming vary annually. Most recent figures (2008) show that approximately 56 million pelts were produced in that year.

85 percent is from fur farming. Mostly fox, mink,... So the discussion is first and foremost about animal welfare on those farms and the environmental impact that these have. Are there really any transparent animal welfare regulations in place and are they enough to ensure animal welfare?

NO In the US every states has it own set of rules. In the EU every country has it own set of rules (or lack thereof) and in Canada laws regarding animal welfare can differ from province to province. The only thing that stays the same is the fur industries marketing strategy.

Revetispe i bur

2. How can the use of animal to make a luxury product ever be ethical?

Fur is green:

But Nature is not Disneyland

Thanks for clearing that up. A fur farm isn't exactly a theme park either.

The fur trade (and other wildlife use) also provides a financial incentive to protect the natural habitat of animals

So because of the "free market" animal species will continue to exist and not go extinct. That's what they are saying right there. As long as we can make money from them we will protect them...to kill them later...and make money. It worked out great for whales or spotted cats in central america (killed off for the fur trade all the way up till the eighties).

Fur farms are also environmentally sound

WRONG

I've blogged about this before as well...right here: study proves fur is not green

A study was published by research and consultancy organisation CE Delft: Fur: harmful to the environment The title says it all doesn't it?

On February 25, 2011, CE Delft released the report 'The environmental impact of mink fur production'.
This study reports on a life cycle assessment (LCA) of mink fur production,

To produce 1 kg of fur requires more than 11 animals. In the course of its lifetime, mink eat about 50 kg of feed, resulting in 563 kg of feed required per kg of fur

Compared with textiles, fur has a higher impact per kg in 17 of the 18 environmental categories, including climate change, eutrophication and toxic emissions

The link to the full study: CE Delft: fur harmful to the environment

3. Animal welfare

Fur is green:

Trapping in Canada is strictly regulated by the provincial and territorial wildlife departments.

Fur farming, like all agriculture, is regulated by the provincial agriculture departments.

The fur industry says this of course in every country...and the international fur industry claims that their entire sector as a whole is well regulated...

To avoid repeating myself, here is nice little documentary about the fur trade and what they don't tell you:

Up Against the Wall / Kniven på strupen from Ola Waagen on Vimeo.


Question 4: Are those videos going around for real?

Fur is green:

Unfortunately there are many documented incidents of activist groups “staging” horrible videos to fuel their fund-raising drives. They do this because the stakes are high! Animal activist groups now rake in millions of dollars with sensationalized, media-driven campaigns. (www.activistcash.com)

First things first: fact check on activist cash and the center for consumer freedom on sourcewatch

ActivistCash.com was created by Berman & Co., a public affairs firm owned by lobbyist Rick Berman. Based in Washington, DC, Berman & Co. represents the tobacco industry as well as hotels, beer distributors, taverns, and restaurant chains.

And it's always the same little game of 'evil' animal activists staging everything and abusing animals themselves so they can rake in the big bucks you of course get when you are an activist or working for an NGO. That's the way to get rich.

They tried the same game in Denmark and I blogged about that too. The animal activists were proven right. They didn't fake or stage anything: fur breeder charged with animal abuse:

Earlier this year animal activists released footage of minks living in appalling conditions on his fur farm. The fur industry of course tried to persuade the public that the images were forgeries, but danish police thought the matter was serious enough to investigate.

And what they found confirmed the footage made by the animal rights activists.

5. cat and dog fur

Concerning dog and cat fur, it is all legal in Canada. Not in the EU though...and I wonder how much cat and dog fur can be found in Canadian stores, and what we can do about it without proper laws, since nothing stands in anybody's way of legally buying and selling it.

Fortunately there are some voices that want to change this: Local MP wants cat and dog fur ban

Products that use Cat and Dog Fur products are banned in countries all over the world,” said Neville. “Yet these products remain legal and can be imported, exported and sold in Canada without any labels, this is a deplorable practice and must be stopped."







Saturday, August 13, 2011

Oslo fashion week fur free: yet again

Rev titter ut av kasse
Oslo fur farm - Nettverk for dyrs frihet

Oslo fashion week is fur free...again! After being the first ever fashion week in the world to go fur free last winter, they decided to continue their fur free policy during this fashion week running from august the 8th till august the 14th.

This is a great thing and also sparks a debate about the role of the fur industry in fashion and the influence they try to have on young designers and the world of fashion as a whole.

This is a great opportunity to get our point across in the press. This is just one great example:

ukeavisen ledelse (link in norwegian)

Markedsføringsorganet Saga Furs bruker nemlig nesten like mye på markedsføringstiltak som norsk pelsbransje får i subsidier. Er norsk motebransje nå i ferd med å b li immune mot framstøtene fra pelsbransjen?

Translation: Saga Furs spends almost as much on marketing as the norwegian fur industry receives in government subsidies. Is the norwegian fashion industry becoming immune to fur trade marketing?

The fur industry doesn't like this of course and responds in its own predictable way. Just take Eva Kruse (Copenhagen fashion week) for example...who said just about the same as last time around.

Basically she is critical of the decision to go fur free made by Oslo Fashion Week and she thinks that every designer should be able to decide on his/her own whether to use fur or not.

Eva Kruse naturally forgets to mention that designers were forced to use real fur in their designs if they wanted to participate in the opening show of Copenhagen Fashion Week. How about freedom to decide what to use again?

You can visit the fashion week website here

And be sure to check out known designer Fam Irvoll

She is fur free and started fashion against fur (link in norwegian)

An initiative of important players in the norwegian fashion industry to counter the influence of the fur industry in fashion.

I've blogged about the Oslo Fashion Week before here: Oslo fashion week fur free