Animal advocates are calling for NYC to join Los Angeles and San Francisco in passing legislation to ban fur sales — and local officials are keen to the idea.
Such a move would have a tremendous impact in one of the global capitals of fashion, home to more than 900 fashion companies, a $15 billion retail market, and arguably the most important Fashion Weeks in the world. It also would signal the importance of protecting farmed animals at a time when the demand for fur continues to grow.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 3.3 million mink pelts were produced in the United States in 2017. But the figures don’t convey the grim details of how animals are pelted in the name of fashion.
“Minks killed for their fur are commonly raised on fur farms in tiny, wire bottom cages without adequate access to food or water, and are killed by gassing, anal electrocution, poison, or by having their necks broken and the skin torn from their bodies while they’re still conscious,” Christina Sewell, manager of fashion campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wrote in an email.
Industry groups say mink are harvested “humanely,” typically killed in airtight boxes filled with carbon monoxide.
But the proliferation of faux fur, which fulfills the roles of keeping people warm and looking glamorous, offers consumers an alternative to killing and confining mink, foxes, rabbits and other animals.
The fur industry has fought the use of faux fur, calling it “extremely harmful” to the environment because some brands are not biodegradable and could hurt wildlife. But fashion designers have been experimenting with more sustainable fibers derived from renewable resources like pineapple and hemp.
With the suffering of millions of animals at stake, NYC has the opportunity to send a strong message across the world by banning fur sales. By doing so, it would demonstrate that protecting animals from cruelty is not only a trend but also a moral imperative.
Cristian Salazar, a Brooklyn-based writer and journalist, is a fellow with Sentient Media, an independent news organization that reports on animal rights. He is a former amNY news editor.