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  • Making Changes for Animal Welfare

    January 04, 2022 10 min read

    Making Changes for Animal Welfare

    There’s nothing that blows our fur the wrong way more than the neglect of animal welfare. From choosing to go with faux fur (fake fur) to protecting our fur friends from the effects of climate change, we are committed to spreading the word. If you haven’t heard us howl our stance from the mountain tops yet, we urge you to lend us your ear for a moment. Then, we'll share a bit about the need for more animal welfare advocates and howl you can lend a paw!

    Fashion and the Disregard for Animal Welfare

    Animal protection isn't typically the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to fashion. However, if you adore our canine, feline, avian, and reptilian companions as much as we do, there are a few things you should be aware of before you go shopping for a luxurious fur item.

    Every year, millions of animals are subjected to unimaginable agony and death for the sake of fashion. The fur of our little friends is transformed into trinkets and trim on clothes, hats, and home décor. These innocent creatures are kept in small, wire-mesh cages on industrial farms or caught by horrific metal traps in the wild. And it’s usually in the name of fashion. But let's be honest. Confining these wild animals in tiny cages or capturing them in metal traps can never be done humanely, no matter what they try to tell you.

    Direwolf Faux Fur Pillow

    Millions more are bred and killed each year for their luxurious fur, all for the sake of a mega profit. Intensive fur farms hold no regard for animal welfare; their goal is simply to feed the fashion industry with conventional (real) fur coats, decorative pompoms, gloves, and more. Others are greenwashing to make a sale. 

    What is Greenwashing?

    The term greenwashing refers to a business that gives the impression that its products and best practices are environmentally conscious when in truth, they are not. Ok, to be fair, some may TRY but fall short of the extent of their claims. These practices may or may not be intentional. Companies may use wording like "made from recycled material" or "made from faux fur," but does this apply to the entire product? Makes you wonder.

    Exposing the Conditions of Fur Farms

    Let’s shed some light on the disturbing truth of these inhumane industrial-scale fur farmsThese methods, as well as those used to capture and kill animals in the wild, spit in the face of animal welfare and very person that loves wildlife. Exposing the horrible conditions our fur friends experience is our best effort to stop the multi-million dollar fur trade.

    Fur Farm practices and consequences to animal welfare include:

    • execution by gassing and anal electrocution
    • Extreme neglectful treatment causing mental distress to the animals
    • tiny, confined living spaces
    • housing in unnatural social groups, often resulting in cage-mate fighting and sometimes cannibalism
    • inhumane traps that painfully clamp the animal’s leg or foot
    • frantic efforts to escape may result in teeth shattering or gnawing off their own limbs
    • left for hours or even days without the ability to seek food, water, or adequate shelter
    • left trying to defend themselves from predators while caught in a trap
    • death by bullet or boot once a trapper appears
    • traps can mistakenly catch or injure non-targeted animals, such as pets and threatened species

    Dressing with Animal Welfare in Mind

    Let's take a peek at some of the most critical issues in the fashion industry regarding animal welfare. Understanding how your wardrobe came to be may help you reconsider some of your fashion values and shopping habits in the future.  

    The Truth About Leather

    Leather has been a wardrobe staple in most closets for some time. But, unfortunately, we frequently overlook the animals whose hides become our jackets and handbags. Think about it—when’s the last time you picked up a gorgeous pair of leather gloves and wondered about animal welfare practice?

    Leather luxuries require the skins of animals. Period. Millions are killed every year to produce the in-demand products that bring many of us joy. But look at what the cost is.

    Different colors of leather

    Most leather products are produced from animals, including:

    • cattle
    • goats
    • pigs
    • sheep
    • snakes
    • crocodiles
    • seals

    India and China, both of which lack animal welfare legislation, produce the vast majority of the fashion industry’s leather. However, even in Australia, animals doomed for leather products do not enjoy the same legal protections as pets. As a result, many of these animals are routinely subjected to harsh treatment, overcrowding, and even torture. 

    Ethical Alternatives to Leather

    Want to do your part to ensure animal welfare efforts? Consider shopping vintage or second-hand leather if you must have it. Then, you can head down to your local op-shop or vintage market to pick up incredible second-hand clothing and accessories. Look at it this way—not only is vintage leather more likely to be higher quality, but your efforts to buy second-hand is paws down an excellent method of minimizing your carbon footprint.

    Vegan leather is another fabulous choice. Just keep in mind that not all vegan leather is equal in quality. Fake leather, or "pleather," is made from Polyvinyl Chloride. PVC plastic, which Greenpeace has identified as one of the most damaging polymers, can have its own disturbing effects on our planet.

    PU, while still plastic-based, has less of an environmental impact than a plant-derived material. Pinatex, for example, is made from pineapple leaf fibers.

    At the very least, inquire about the animals being used by brands selling leather. Find out how they are treated and what kind of lives they have been given before being executed for a fashion statement.  As challenging as the world makes it, animal welfare needs be at the core of our decision making process if we are to save our planet. 

    The Truth About Wool

    Combed white wool

    Wool is thought of as a winter wardrobe must-have, yet it isn't always produced in an ethical manner. There are numerous animal welfare issues associated with the wool industry. These fluffy fur friends are subjected to terrible living conditions and pain and discomfort during their handling.

    In Australia, which produces most of the world's merino wool, PETA has exposed cases of sheep abuse. Many Australian sheep are put thru a harsh and downright ineffective treatment known as mulesing. During this despicable method, the flesh is sliced from the sheep’s buttocks without any anesthesia. Makes your stomach turn, doesn’t it?

    Ethical Alternatives to Wool

    Consider shopping for second-hand wool. You’ll find fashion-savvy choices in many vintage boutiques and op-shops to meet your needs. While helping save sheep and promoting animal welfare, you’ll be saving your pocketbook from the extra damage.

    Woolen coats that are properly cared for can last you decades. What sense does it make to put more sheep at risk when you can rock a vintage coat with a fabulous shopping story attached?

    You can also use fiber alternatives instead of wool. Linen, hemp, and some certified semi-synthetics like TENCEL® Lyocell are much kinder to the environment,100 percent animal-friendly, and put animal welfare at the forefront!

    Do your homework! Find and support manufacturers that don't use mulesed or opt for recycled wool. Your purchases will look even better on your bod when you can feel good about your support of animal welfare.

    The Truth About Fur

    Real fur has always had a high value in the fashion industry. So, while it was once a fashion faux pas to be caught in anything less than the real thing, animal welfare activists turned the tides to help advocate for their fur friends.

    Numerous animals were, and unfortunately still are, utilized in creating swanky apparel, accessories, and home décor products. Unfortunately, with little to no regard for animal welfare, the fur industry continues to turn out real fur products for the sake of the dollar.

    Among the voiceless animals to be used for their precious fur are:

    white fur up close
    • minks
    • foxes
    • rabbits
    • llamas
    • kangaroos
    • dogs
    • cats 

    and many others...

    Fur was banned for a brief time in the ‘90s as a result of PETA's celebrity-endorsed campaigning. Unfortunately, it has made a comeback, as it’s been paraded down catwalks and red carpets. While faux fur is still chic and in demand, certain well-known brands have been discovered with real fur lines.

    Ethical Alternatives to Fur

    If you’re set on real fur fashion, consider purchasing fur that has been previously used or recycled. Purchasing pre-loved fur items gives you the aesthetic and feel of fur you're drawn to without negatively impacting present day  animals. As a result, you won't be contributing to the cruelty of todays fur industry but, instead, you’ll help support animal welfare

    A faux fur is a fabulous option! However, we recommend that you avoid fast fashion faux fur clothing. They tend to use solely non-renewable, petroleum-based materials and are not interested in the progress forward into sustainable faux fur alternatives. We are at a pivotal point in climate change where we must be conscious of the brands we support and encourage the switch to sustainable fashion as the norm.  

    Brown Grizzly Bear Collector Edition Faux Fur Shawl on Woman

    Look for faux fur made from quality materials, or recycled if available. When you shop our SpiritHoods collection, you can rest well knowing we use 100% premium faux fur (no animals harmed). We are not ‘fast fashion’, which means all our faux fur products are meant to last decades when cared for properly. We partner with only the best organizations. Our faux fur mills are eco-Tex certified, and dedicated to creating sustainable faux fur options over the next several years and have poured millions of dollars into research and development of this new fabric. We are proud to be partnered with pioneering fabric houses that care about the wellbeing of both the environment and animal welfare

    In addition, you'll find an array of chic coatshoods, and home décor to suit the stylings of your inner animal.

    Stay snug in the cuddly eared, playful Grizzly Bear Faux Fur Shawl. Or strut into the club like a Rockstar with our Pink Panther Calf-Length CoatOr just chill at home with our best selling Grey Wolf Throw!

    Climate Change and Its Impact on Animal Welfare

    Let’s not forget the adverse effects climate change has on endangered animals.

    As Earth continues to warm at an alarming rate, animal welfare is at stake. Animals are forced to adapt to the effects of climate change, including new climate patterns, due to these trends. 

    Human activities are the very cause of global warming. The consequences of our actions are becoming detrimental to our furry friends, and the good news is that we can do something about it!

    Climate change is resulting in: 

    • habitat loss
    • changes in migration habits
    • food scarcity
    • the extinction of endangered species

    Additional Impacts of Climate Change

    Woman wearing Pink Panther Calf-Length Coat

    The need to step up for animal welfare is all too real. The climate change from the last century alone has already caused significant ecological changes. For instance, climate change has significantly altered growing seasons and seasonal breeding patterns.

    The outlook for many species surviving in our rapidly warming environment looks bleak. The survival rate of many will likely be determined by their ability to migrate to new areas in record time. Many of these animals require specific habitats that can satisfy their physical, biological, and climatic requirements.

    Sadly, animal welfare may come down to mobility. If we do not take serious measures to reduce our CO2 emissions soon, most species, including plants, will have to find a way to move more than a half-mile each year to stay within their required climate zone. While this may sound simple enough on paper, we assure you it's not. Many species will be unable to keep up with this relocation rate.

    According to the Nature Climate Change journal, 99.8 percent of endangered species listed on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are vulnerable to climate change. Yet, despite significant evidence of climate change threatening animal welfare, government agencies are still not doing enough to protect our animals.

    Pollutants and Animal Welfare

    It should come as no surprise that lead and other pollutants can be highly poisonous in higher temperatures. In addition, the effects of climate change and pollutants threaten animals like the California condors. Yet, even with the known effects of climate change on condors, no plan of action has been set in motion for the animal’s welfare.

    Another example is the Hawaiian stilt. The stilts live in coastal wetlands and mudflats that are vulnerable to the continuing sea-level rise. Would it shock you to hear this information comes from a 2012 recovery plan? It's almost 2022, people. How far do you think the plan has come since then?

    Grey Wolf Faux Fur Throw on a couch

    Endemic Hawaiian birds, such as the tiny Kauai thrush and Oahu elepaio, are threatened by ever-rising temperatures. This climate change enables mosquitoes to carry deadly avian malaria, which can survive at higher elevations. And what does this all mean for our feathered friends? It wipes out safety zone options necessary for their migration and survival.  

    Unfurrrgivable Actions amid Climate Change

    While climate change is a critical hazard to endangered species, the organizations that manage protected species listed by the ESA have not given it enough attention. What’s worse, agencies are advancing in the wrong direction. For example, current plans for animal welfare are far less likely to address climate change than previous plans of action. The disconnect between species' overall sensitivity to climate change and federal agencies' blatant neglect of this issue is unfurrrgivable, to say the least.

    SpiritHoods: Advocating for the Voiceless

    We want change. We want to see our government agencies step up for animal welfare and support conservation efforts on public and private lands. We demand the ongoing protection of vital habitats for species to give them a fighting chance, and we do this in part by working with non profit organizations around the world. It is a defining pillar of our brand values and the foundation with which we built our company on. 

    Man wrapped in Alpaca Faux Fur Throw

    We want to see an end to the real-fur industry, protecting our fur friends. And we urge you to take a stand with us! When you purchase a faux fur luxury item from SpiritHoods, we donate 10% of the net profits to non profit organizations that help endangered animals. So you can feel good, and look good, knowing you're helping advocate for the voiceless.

    The path forward into sustainable faux fur and the end to real fur is through transparency, education, and shopping with brands that care. The world of fashion is a murky one, and its up to each one of us to choose carefully which brands we shop with.. For every purchase you make to an organization that values animal wellfare you are making a choice for all of our futures. If a brand really cares about animal wellfare, they will be partnering with and working towards the next evolution of faux fur; sustainability. Those are the brands that deserve our patronage and support. 

    As you prepare to stay warm this winter, decorate your den and slip into the warmth and savvy stylings of a 100% faux fur SpiritHoods fashion.