FIG. 1 FUR STORAGE AT A FASHION HOUSE
Fur production is hotly debated in Western countries. Anti-fur associations point to animal welfare issues, including poor-quality living conditions, and have ethical objections to mink bred and harvested for their fur. For example, each day about 100,000 mink are slaughtered, and more than 3 million sheep face the shears of their masters.
The latest auction results at “Copenhagen Fur” indicate that from February 2018 to the end of January 2019 an estimated 35 million mink pelts were supplied from auction houses. To produce 1 kg of fur requires 11.4 mink pelts. In the course of its lifetime, one mink eats almost 50 kg of feed, which means 563 kg of feed is needed to make one kilo of fur.
The fur industry considers fur production a ‘green’ agricultural activity, and cites measures taken to reduce CO2 emissions, as well as water and energy consumption. Fur is positioned as an environmentally benign, ‘natural’ product. However, the reality is very different, and compared with textiles, fur has a higher impact on 17 of the 18 environmental parameters, including climate change and toxic emissions.
In addition, fur scores much worse than textiles. The climate change impact of 1 kilo of mink fur is five times higher than that of the highest-scoring textile (wool). The exception is water depletion, where cotton scores highest. Other factors making a major contribution to the overall environmental impact of mink fur are emissions of N2O (nitrous oxide) and NH3 (ammonia) from mink manure.
Or take, the Tibetean antelope, which is endangered due to massive illegal poaching. They are hunted for their extremely soft, light and warm underfur which is usually obtained after slaughter. This wool, known as shahtoosh is used to weave luxury shawls in India. Shahtoosh shawls were traditionally given as a wedding gift in India and it takes the underfur of 3-5 adult antelopes to make one shawl.