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Letter: Time to think fur free in Newfoundland

['A selection of the finished product, what the sealskin looks like once ready for market, and can sell upwards to $200, often crafted in products such as seat warmers, clothing and accessories.']
Sealskins ready for market. — Telegram file photo

2019 is going to be a good year for the animals, at least in San Francisco.

On New Year’s Day 2019, San Francisco implements a much-anticipated ban on the sale of real fur, becoming the largest U.S. city (so far) to do so. They might have some stiff competition though, with talks of Los Angeles quickly following suit.

Popular brands like Gucci, Versace, Gap, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Armani, Michael Kors, and Tommy Hilfiger are just a few of the top sellers that have vowed to go fur free over the years, and I’m sure there will be many more to come.

As society progresses, countries like Norway are banning industries such as fur farming, joining the ranks of compassionate people who view animals as living beings, rather than mere fabric. The British Fashion Council even decided to ban animal fur from every fashion show during London Fashion Week.

So where do we stand, Newfoundland? Why are we so quick to dig in our heels and vehemently deny that our seal hunt is outdated, cruel, and most importantly, dying?

We cannot pretend that we are the only civilization whose ancestors relied heavily on the use of animal fur for warmth and trade in the past. We also cannot pretend that words like “culture” and “tradition” are unique only to Newfoundland.

Many countries, like Norway, had culture and traditions of their own, involving animal pelts. They are phasing it out, and so can we! We live in an exciting age of diverse materials that render the cruel use of animal pelts obsolete. Many cities and countries, the world over, are realizing this, and moving towards compassion, empathy and change.

Our local fur industry’s latest attempt to justify their unwillingness to end the sale of seal fur, is to market it as “natural,” “sustainable,” or even “biodegradable.”

I find that highly unlikely, given the extensive chemical processing a pelt goes through to ensure it doesn’t rot. They like to point out how polyester and rubber are detrimental to the environment, but fail to mention that those are the very materials used in the soles and linings of their own products.

A much more natural and sustainable alternative to any of those materials would be hemp, which can be utilized to make everything from belts, to warm winter jackets. You only need to go as far as your own computer screen to access a wealth of knowledge about alternatives to fur, which are not only natural and far more sustainable, but also modern and cruelty-free. There are markets all over the world for cruelty-free clothing.

These markets are wide open and full of possibilities, unlike seal fur, which has been banned from almost every country imaginable. This is a crucial time to embrace cruelty-free markets and industries, Newfoundland! Now is our chance to branch out, create new jobs, take part in new and exciting industries, and bask in the inevitable limelight that ending our participation in the cruel fur industry will bring.

The time is now, Newfoundland. We can transition smoothly away from this dying industry. The question is, will we?

Amanda Green


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