Fur is greener, but still not greenest

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “Fur is smog grey and blood red”
March 4, 2009

To the editor:
What does it mean to be green?

That question has not yet matured to a concise answer in the soup of public perception. For example, many products today are labeled as green if they merely cause less damage to the environment than the previous generation of similar products. To me, that is not green, though it is the right direction to be taking. I would suggest that to be green would be to encourage and assist with balance in nature. Even with this definition in hand, the debate is convoluted, by non-environmental interest groups trying to steal some of the green publicity.

The controversy surrounding the Fur Is Green campaign is muddied by the distinction between environmental and ethical arguments, as touched on in the “It’s not easy being green” editorial. There is a spectrum of beliefs concerning the treatment of animals with animal rights occupying the extreme leftwing and utilitarian views on the extreme rightwing. The fur industry uses animals as a resource, which places them firmly in the utilitarian region. It is often said that you can’t please everyone and this is especially true when it comes to the treatment of animals. Those with leftist views will not be happy with the fur industry no matter how green it is. However, the ethical treatment of animals of the fur industry are distinct and separate from its environmental standing. As such, those ethical issues are superfluous to the green debate.

So is fur green? By my definition, I would say no. As pointed out by Mr. Williamson in his letter “Fur is smog grey and blood red,” most fur is farmed and not trapped. Fur farming involves a great deal of energy consumption, much more than trapping. However, I contest his statement that farmed or trapped fur consumes more energy than synthetic alternatives.

Energy consumption during production is a misleading statistic. Total environmental impact is more appropriate. Predictable increases in efficiency and innovations in process are positively correlated with increased production volume. So decreasing the energy consumption during production and using less harmful chemicals during tanning can be achieved by supporting the fur industry. Buying more fur will help reduce the per unit environmental impact from fur production.

Synthetics are oil-based products, which come from a non-renewable resource and are not biodegradable. On the other hand, fur is both biodegradable and renewable. It is simple to deduce which industry has the potential to be sustainable and which does not. Sustainability is ultimately the most important factor when it comes to being green.

Mother Nature kept animals warm for a long time before humans decided we could do it better with synthetics. Oil-based products are not green and they do not have the potential to become green. Fur has the potential to be green and our support of the industry will help get it there. Ethical debate aside, fur is the greener textile but it is not yet green.
" Brian Sutton-Quaid
Biology IV

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