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The Daisy Debate: Fur better, fur worse?

Is it sometimes greener to wear fur? asks Sallyanne Flemons. Join the debate

Rabbit fur farm. Thanks to CAFT.org.uk for image

The September 2011 issues of high end fashion mags were loaded with ads featuring models clad in fur.

And the fur was definitely real – a quick check online confirms the collections of Louis Vitton, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli and Max Mara all feature it. As usual, they are echoing the season’s catwalks.

The fur debate is no stranger to Daisy Green. You can read Elizabeth’s article Fur and Fashion: A personal choice for a quick exploration of the fur industry and how it works.

In this nation of animal lovers, passions run high on any practise involving harming animals yet in 2011 there is plenty of cash to be made selling real fur clothing to fashion conscious women.

Looking at it dispassionately for a minute, there are many who are happy to wear leather and eat meat. Is wearing fur so different?

For those of us who are vegan or vegetarian, the lines are very clearly drawn.

But for others, it is a complicated and rather sticky dilemma.

Where do you think is the right place to stand on the issue for the modern girl?

Taking a broad view of ethics, as I see it, one of the problems with human beings is that we have appointed ourselves masters of all we survey, better than other creatures, who can do as we please.

Instead, I believe that we should accept that we are a tiny part of a complex ecosystem evolved over millions of years to find the perfect balance.

The balance works when species, including us, only consume what we need to survive, respecting all the other species and natural resources around us.

In prehistoric times, early humans had to wear animal skins to avoid freezing to death and you can be sure that pretty much every other part of the animal they wore was put to good use.

These days, when fur is used it is very frequently not a by product (fox meat anyone?) and there are other things we can wear to keep warm.

Children throwing dead Possums in New Zealand

Wearing fur from animals farmed and killed purely for fashion is an option rejected by millions of women. But what about when pelts are taken from ‘pest species’ already being actively controlled in the wild?

In New Zealand there are plenty of outlets selling what they describe as ‘eco fur’ in the form of possum pelts.

One website dubs the introduced Brushtail Possum ‘the greatest threat to New Zealand’s native forests and wildlife’ and uses the slogan ‘Buy a possum, save a forest’.

It’s a strong argument. It is undoubtedly sustainable to use parts of a wild ‘pest’ animal that is being destroyed anyway.

More Earth-kind than making garments from, say, farmed non-organic cotton when you take into account the land set aside to grow cotton, the pesticides and water used.

But once again isn’t this a situation that’s arisen because of our own actions? If we hadn’t gone and ‘introduced’ species like the possum into New Zealand and upset the ecological balance there would be no need to kill the poor beast.

In my mind, the majority of fur products are a symbol of our skewed relationship with the natural world.

For all these reasons I personally would find it hard to wear any kind of fur with pride but it’s far from a clear cut case of right or wrong.

What do you think? Fur better, fur worse – farmed fur, wild fur, vintage fur… Is it ever OK to wear it? Have your say by leaving a reply below.

Read more about the children throwing dead Possums

Sallyanne Flemons

Strengths: Hunting down and extinguishing little red standby lights. Weaknesses: Shoes, shoes. And boots.
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