Cruelty Free Fashion

Anyone in their right mind knows that wearing fur is a complete and utter, without a doubt, definite, unquestionable no-no, but what about other fabrics and materials that our clothes are made from? Unfortunately fur is not the only material that causes suffering to animals and while at Consume with Care we try our very best to focus on the positive, we feel that it’s important to shed light on this issue.

Liz Jones, columnist for the UK-based Daily Mail, has written a great piece on the impact of our clothing choices on animals.* The information that follows is taken from her article.

Leather and Sheepskin

The defence for these hides is that they are a by-product of the meat industry. To my mind, that isn’t much of a defence, but it’s also not really true. Much leather comes from India and China, where animals are killed purely for their skins.  Cattle that are sick or weak and not fit for human consumption are also killed for their hides. And, with our mania for softness and calf or ‘nappa’ leather, the animals are killed very young. Tanning works use toxic chemicals, which can seep into water supplies, poisoning villagers.  There are so many alternatives to leather these days that it seems daft even to think about buying something ‘real’.

Exotic skin

There is no ethical way to kill a reptile. Alligators and crocodiles are poleaxed – bludgeoned over the head repeatedly. An alternative method is the nape stab, where a chisel is hammered into the back of the neck, which paralyses the animal. Because reptiles are cold-blooded and have a slow metabolism it can take two hours for them to die. This means nearly all crocodiles and alligators are skinned alive. Snakes are caught in the wild in Africa, Asia and India, and skinned in filthy backstreet operations. Before they are killed, they are starved to make the skin looser, but there is another, even more terrible stage. A tube is put down the python’s throat and inflated to stretch the skin while the animal is still alive. Then the snake is nailed by the head to a tree, and its skin sliced off before it is left to die. This takes several days. Please – buy only mock croc, or snake print.


As the use of feathers in fashion has increased, so too has the brutality of production. Down, the very soft feathers from the breasts of duck and geese, used in quilted jackets and duvets, is plucked from slaughtered birds used for food or forcibly restrained live ones. The birds are plucked three to five times before slaughter. I will never buy anything with feathers.


This yarn is, of course, part of the meat trade, as lambs from sheep kept for wool production are slaughtered for food. Most of our wool now comes from Australia and New Zealand, and the sheep producing it can be treated very cruelly.

Take ‘mulesing’, where skin under merino lambs’ tails is cut off, often without anaesthetic, to discourage blow flies: it is hideous, but cheaper than humane alternatives. Most of these sheep (once deemed too old for their wool to be soft enough) and their offspring are exported live to the Middle East, for halal or kosher slaughter, where animals have their throats slit while still conscious.


While once an expensive luxury, you can now buy a cashmere sweater for £40 in Tesco.  My feeling is that if something suddenly becomes affordable, something is being mistreated, somewhere. Once, there were cashmere goats in Scotland, which were free range. Cashmere goats now live largely in Mongolia, and due to the demand for the fine hair – combed from below their chins — are often intensively farmed, housed in sheds, and slaughtered at two or three years of age. Don’t be fooled by expensive cashmere: Brora, M&S et al sell Mongolian cashmere. Mohair goats, too, usually from South Africa, also suffer.


The caterpillar of the silk moth is boiled, baked or steamed alive, so that the long, delicate threads of its cocoon can be processed. Silk is mainly produced in China and India and its use has mushroomed recently. Far better to buy new synthetics or organic, Fairtrade cotton.


Remember Kate Moss in that black astrakhan jacket? The fur is the skin of a Karakul lamb, aborted prematurely, or killed after birth, to get the tight, wet-look curls. It is rarely produced these days, but if you come across it, avoid at all cost, and email the brand in question to demand that they remove it from sale. You really don’t want to put this on your back.


Animal cruelty for the sake of fashion is so not cool. So, when you next head out to the shops for some retail therapy we hope you’ll consider the above information above and choose animal-friendly clothing. Happy shopping and as always, please remember to consume with care!


* For Liz Jones’ full article please click here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2530799/LIZ-JONES-FASHION-THERAPY-Think-angora-cruel-fabric-High-Street-Think-again.html


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