Fur Is Green?

Guest Blogger: Seth Victor

Today I discovered the “Fur Is Green” campaign, sponsored by the Fur Council of Canada. I don’t think anyone who reads this blog will find this campaign anything less than absurd. While I could possibly see someone buying the “Respect for the Land” and “Respect for the People” prongs, I find immense tragicomedy in the “Respect for Animals” section. Adorned by earthy tones and trendy phrases like “eco-conscious,” and the particularly nauseating Beautifully Canadian link (to be clicked at your own risk), the site proudly proclaims, “Nothing is wasted!” The Fur Council wants you to know that we already use animals in practically everything we do, and that the fur trade represent less than one percent of the animals killed in the name of human use. Beyond that, they take care not to trap outside of the regulations developed by Agriculture Canada, and that no endangered species are every used; apparently, they are either never caught by advanced, discriminating traps, or they simply are not used, whatever their actually fate may be.

I think most environmentalists looking at “Fur Is Green” will recoil from its message and not be swayed into purchasing fur lined boxers over environmentally destructive synthetics. I am, however, aware that there are campaigns that emphasize the eco-friendly aspects of hunting, which have their own merits, so perhaps I am wrong. What disturbs me about this campaign is not how effective it may be, but how quickly this decade’s environmental movement is being eroded into a pop culture term devoid of meaning. If the Fur Council can adopt its butchering as a green alternative, I hesitate to think what other environmental disasters could be given the stamp of approval. Prof. Cassuto already mentioned Orwell’s comment about how words matter, but it bears repeating.

Moreover, this campaign illustrates how anthropocentric environmental concerns can be. If fur is good for the environment, we must be excluding other mammals from inclusion in this sustainable world. What kind of world are we saving from pollution by not choosing synthetics? Often when people talk about factory farms as an environmental disaster, they are addressing the methane and waste pollution, but not the cows who are deprived of a full life.

Lastly, I wonder how many people are disturbed by the Fur Council’s reasoning, but are not bothered that the exact same reasoning underlies the laws that keep farmed animals in the atrocious conditions in which they exist. Fur Council assumes that since we are already using animals, we should continue to do so, and that it is actually something of an accolade that they do not come close to destroying as many lives as food production does (I must say that this is the first time I have seen that percentage spun in this manner). How, I ask, is this any different from state laws that allow current industry norms to dictate legal standards for animal treatment, or the underlying philosophy that animals should be denied legal rights because they do not have legal rights? Furthermore, what does that say about Fur Council’s aforementioned standards of care? There is no difference, and yet I am willing to bet that many people who are outraged by this site will not think twice about their next hamburger.

3 Responses

  1. Thanks for the post, I think this is the best I’ve read on this topic

  2. That is outrageous, but like all the immoral things in the world it all boils down to money in the end.If they can make a profit off of the animals, they will find a way to spin it.

  3. This is exactly why I hesitate when people ask if I plan to return to Canada to practice law. While I think Canada needs drastic reforms in the animal law field, I am skeptical that it will happen, at least not in this century. Canada prides itself on its rustic, fur trading heritage. The beaver is a perfect example. Beaver pelts were such a lucrative commodity in Canada, that the beaver has become one of Canada’s national symbols. The Hudson Bay company, which controlled the fur trade for decades, is still regarded as a popular department store in Canada (now simply referred to as “the Bay”). Canada, in an attempt to establish an identity separate from the US (which has been a struggle) has a hard time separating itself from its past, and from acknowledging the changing social consciousness which is less accepting of fur, if not morally opposed to it. I think that part of the reason is that Canada, perhaps in an apologetic, guilty conscious, even over compensatory way, tries to incorporate the Native American culture into its identity, even though Natives endured horrendous treatment, and its culture was nearly wiped out at the hands of “Canadians”. While I completely respect Canada’s attempt at reconciling the past, and finally acknowledging and accepting the Native American culture and the value and contributions they give to the country, I think Canada is misguided in its support of continuing a fur industry that is substantially different in the corporate context than its colonization days during which the Native community was played an integral, if not necessary part. The need for Natives to use fur to sustain their livelihood, both in the past and in the present, is fundamentally different from current fur trappers justifying the skinning of animals to sustain their ‘livelihood’, particularly those claiming that the annual seal slaughter is necessary for the Maritime economy to survive. Canada has much more historical accomplishments to develop its identity and be proud of, other than the fur industry. And its attempt at subconsciously using the Native American culture to justify this barbaric industry is embarrassing for myself as well as many Canadians. Until Canada gains the confidence to embark on business ventures that do not exploit its natural resources, this mentality within Canada will probably persist, and unfortunately our fur bearing animal friends will suffer.

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