What the f**x?
It’s cold outside and instead of looking like a shapeless pillow, you decide to switch up the attire and go with a more fashion-forward choice. Perusing your closet, you find your fur jacket that stares at you temptingly. The problem is, you’ve just gone vegan and are taking a strong stance against fur. The only fur you support is the faux kind. Because it’s ethical… right?
Well, not exactly. Here’s the catch about synthetic fur— it’s synthetic. Meaning, it’s derived from polymers, which are petroleum, water, air, limestone, and coal-based. Fabrics made from these materials, particularly petroleum and coal, are plastic. Not to mention all the dyes and chemicals that the material undergoes, harming the planet and the garment workers that are first-hand exposed to it. So, although you’re saving an animals life (which is amazing), the problem becomes displaced. Again, this isn’t to discredit the efforts of animal activists, but if you’re advocating for animal rights, you have to consider that humans are animals too. We have to be conscious of being as inclusive as possible, which means we have to make sure that the people who make our clothes are not facing serious life-risking health hazards for… a jacket. And in the process of saving one animals life from being turned into a fur coat, we’re subjecting marine life to plastic debris from our faux fur items.
2018’s environmental buzz word, microplastics, has a lot to due with garment workers health being at risk when constantly in contact with synthetic fabrics. “Ingested microplastic particles can physically damage organs and leach hazardous chemicals—from the hormone-disrupting bisphenol A (BPA) to pesticides—that can compromise immune function and stymie growth and reproduction.” (Thompson) Microplastics make their way up the food chain, which is how they eventually end up in our guts; they result in the ocean, the soil, the intestines of animals, and the air. When breathed in, these tiny airborne particles lodge themselves in the lungs, causing an array of diseases. Since they are in direct contact with them, factory workers have shown higher levels of these textile particles than the average person while evidence of lung irritation has also been noticeably higher. Textiles place a close second to pollution caused by the more notorious culprits like plastic bags, storage containers, bottle caps, rope, utensils, cups, etc.
At this point, you’re probably questioning what to purchase, since our “better” choices seem to still have some type of opportunity cost associated with it. The answer is, just don’t buy fur, fake or real. Sure it’s appealing and has some cosmopolitan elements to it, but there are plenty of better choices that will make you look just as chic and probably keep you warmer. That one time I borrowed my friends faux fur jacket, I was still freezing and felt super silly after wearing it for a bit. Feeling the texture of the “fur” on the train ride back to her apartment, I grew curious regarding the sources of the materials, since it was so comparable to real fur. It clicked that the only way it can feel so real is because of how fake and modified it is. After some research, it became transparent that wearing faux fur was pretty much as bad as wearing real fur.
Thompson, Andrea. “From Fish to Humans, A Microplastic Invasion May Be Taking a Toll.” Scientific American, 4 Sept. 2018, www.scientificamerican.com/article/from-fish-to-humans-a-microplastic-invasion-may-be-taking-a-toll/#googDisableSync.