The “Cruelty-free” Myth

With an increasing sum of people concerned with animal welfare, more products are being labeled as “cruelty-free” or “vegan.”

Let me begin this discussion by first making the distinction, that apparently some marketers cannot, that a vegan product and a cruelty-free product are not necessarily the same thing. A product can very well be free from any animal materials, but still have had some negative impact on the welfare of an animal or animals.

Either way, while browsing through Etsy, I’ve come across many faux fur items and “cruelty-free” replications of other animalian tissues, such as bone. The reason behind anyone’s interest in purchasing such items no doubt will vary, and is also beside the point. If I am to debate whether or not one should even take an interest in obtaining these items, I shall do so at a later time.

However, while conversing with a person via the internet who owns an Etsy shop that sells such items, another person entered the more-or-less public discussion by exclaiming their disgust with authentic animal products, and instead offered the “cruelty-free solution” of something faux. I soon found myself amused at the prospect of anything “faux” being a better option than anything authentic.

Why? Because real fur, bone, and leather have been used by us humans for the vast majority of our existence and is an integral part of being human. That is, the utilization of natural items around us. Tool use. Creation. Things that make humans truly human. Of course the creation and use of synthetic animal products is essentially the same thing, only illogical because it does more harm that good.

How? Because while the death of one deer for one deer hide might be a saddening thought for some, it causes significantly more environmental damage to obtain the acrylic/modacrylic polymers to make one synthetic piece of deer fur. In the end, no animal’s welfare is as necessary as the overall welfare of Earth. And organic, authentic materials are sustainable. The very unclean materials to make anything synthetic, anything that requires an industrial society to produce it, is certainly not sustainable.

Personally, I cannot phathom the idea of faux fur being appealing in any manner. A disgusting connotation is connected to the replication of a real animal via industries, depending on the use of coal and petroleum, and not being broken down back into the environment for, possibly, another millennium. There is no ‘soul’ in synthetic material. No heart in a material whose production has caused more damage than what it’s worth.

Now, many authentic animal products can come at an ecological price as well. But, at our population’s numbers, everything we create or use or do at all will. However, the means of obtaining real fur can vary in ecological damage from being as harmless as utilizing a fresh carcass you happened upon, to as dirty as large-scale fur farms. Albeit both of these options are more sustainable one than anything plastic or faux. Aside from this, many ARA have most likely never seen a real fur farm in their life, nor personally known any fur farmers, and probably paint it out to be much worse than what it really is. I personally have known fur farmers, and they (those I’ve met) do not have a sadistic pleasure in the death of their livestock, nor do they torture them. No form of torture (beating, starving, unsanitary conditions) would be good for their business, and would be detrimental to themselves. So, obviously, such things are not ever done by any reliable fur producer. I don’t favor any form of animal agriculture, or agriculture at all. But if you are going to oppose something, you may as well do so rightfully. At the very least, know what you oppose.

In any case, fur/bone use exists outside of the fashion of first world countries. Where to some people, a fur coat might be a fashion statement, to someone else it could mean surviving the winter comfortably. Or have a cultural context outside of showing off, because, other cultures than the dominant one exist, as well. And in many cases, there is a spiritual context. But I can get into motives and their impact another time.

In conclusion, the closer to its natural state, the better. Raw organic materials are more sustainable than anything synthetic.