Hello “Wear Your Fur Friday”
As the days grow crisp and cold, Americans celebrate the rites of Fall: Football, Thanksgiving, jumping into piles of leaves… In an annual ritual, we put away the cool cottons and silks of summer and pull out the warm wools, leathers and furs of winter. There’s another ritual now on the calendar, “Wear Your Fur Friday”!
According to the Fur Information Council of America, 20% of American women own a real fur, and the popularity of nature’s most spectacular fiber has bounced back spectacularly in the last decade. Although sales have been dented by the world economic downturn, retail sales through traditional fur retailers still came to $1.34 billion.(1) Not included in FICA’s annual survey is an increasing volume of furs being sold through department stores and other outlets, and over the Internet.
After years of abuse from animal rightists, this huge fur-owning segment of the population is re-awakening to the fact that they should wear their furs with pride, and there’s no better day to do that than on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
That day, which just happens to be one of America’s biggest shopping days, has long been known to jaded consumers and retailers alike as “Fur Free Friday” – when plastic-clad animal rightists picket stores selling furs and leathers, and exhort consumers to wear synthetics instead.
“Plastic People wear plastic belts and shoes, and synthetic garments with life spans of hundreds of years. Some also wear masks and black hoods to frighten,” explains veteran observer Kim Graf, a third-generation San Diego fur and leather retailer, seamstress extraordinaire and volunteer organizer of the San Diego Quilt Show. “They are clingier than plastic wrap and, like plastic, they just never go away.”
Fourth-generation Portland, Oregon furrier Mark Schumacher is no fan of Plastic People either. “They are welcome to their opinion,” he says, “but use of ‘toxic’ synthetic petroleum-based products, in place of ‘renewable’ animal or organic-based ‘natural’ clothing, is misguided.”
But people like Schumacher and Graf, convinced that Plastic People “just never go away,” could be in for a pleasant surprise.
Plastic People pickets are harder to find each year as consumers become more savvy about the importance of clothing ourselves in sustainable, biodegradable products. Over 200 top designers agree, and the number just seems to keep on rising.
Goodbye “Fur Free Friday”! Hello “Wear Your Fur Friday”!
It is ironic that the favorite day for Plastic People to protest against fur comes a day after Thanksgiving, when Americans gobble down millions of turkeys at a single meal on a single day.
True, dyed-in-the-wool Plastic People are vegans who oppose all animal agriculture, animal research and even pets. In addition to Fur Free Friday, they would like our calendars to be filled with days like “Turkey-Free Thanksgiving” and “No Egg Nog Christmas”. The majority, however, probably still eat Thanksgiving turkey, but without realizing the connection between the meal digesting in their bellies and the fur which they protest against the next day.
A good share of the byproducts from the processing of their Thanksgiving meal ended up being fed to domesticated carnivores – millions of mink and fox raised for their fine pelts, oil, animal protein, bases for cosmetics and many other products. Small wonder one sometimes finds fur farms situated next to turkey farms.
Mink consume 20 times their body weight and foxes consume 35 times their body weight every year. Thus, each full-length, farm-raised fur coat represents over 2.5 tons of guts and entrails left over from the production of our dinners. Hardly glamorous – just down-to-Earth recycling at its best!(2)
So to all Plastic People who enjoy their Thanksgiving turkey, eat beef, fish and poultry, wear leather, and sleep on down pillows, we say: You and fur are parts of the same cycle!
Plastic People Endorsements
However, there are two things that every Plastic Person, vegan and turkey-eater alike, endorses. They endorse petrochemical-based synthetics. They just can’t get enough of them! And whether they like it or not, they implicitly endorse mono-cultural crop production(3) as the best way to feed the burgeoning human population, despite the trillions of animals and insects that are unintentionally or indirectly sacrificed at harvest time, or which are deprived of their habitat.(4)
Let’s not even try to assess the costs of crop production in terms of water, fertilizers and pesticides which Plastic People support with their every purchase.
This year, when “Wear Your Fur Friday” comes around, don’t cower at the sight of the Plastic People, with their hoods, abusive chants and grotesque street theater. Welcome the chance to talk about the benefits of real fur. And remember you are in good company with all the Americans who gobbled turkey the day before; you are modelling Thanksgiving leftovers at their best!
Wear your fur with pride and have a warm and peaceful holiday.
(1) See US fur retail sales hurt by economic concerns in 2007. FCUSA press release, Nov. 20, 2008.
(2) See Super Duper Recyclers – How Fur Farmers Turn Waste into Beauty FCUSA commentary, Oct. 28, 1999.
(3) The US covers 1.9 billion acres, of which 79 million are used for corn, 64 million for soybeans and 14 million for cotton. These three crops alone take up 8.3% of our former wildlife habitat.
(4) See The least harm principle may require that humans consume a diet containing large herbivores, not a vegan diet. By S.L. Davis, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, vol. 16, issue 4, 2003.