My, oh, my, was Lubna Hamdan's recent article about fur embarrassingly off the mark. Actually, the few people out there who still drape themselves in fur that was stolen, quite literally, off an animal's back, should feel guilty – very guilty. Fur is barbaric, toxic, ugly and unnecessary, and the fur trade causes the suffering and deaths of millions of animals who are trapped, gassed, poisoned, drowned, electrocuted and even skinned alive every year.
While everyone knows that it's cold in Russia, that's certainly no excuse to wear fur. When was the last time a mountaineer attempted to climb Mt Everest in a heavy mink coat? Today there are many modern synthetic fibres which are far warmer, lighter and more weather-proof than a nasty fur.
As for the assertion that fur is eco-friendly – scientific evidence conclusively demonstrates otherwise. In Denmark, where more than 2 million minks are killed for their fur annually, more than 8,000 pounds of ammonia is released into the atmosphere each year. An independent research and consultancy organisation recently conducted a study of mink farms and found that the climate-change impact of 1 kilogram of mink fur is five times higher than that of the highest-scoring textile.
The study also found that for 17 out of 18 different environmental issues, such as climate change, ozone pollution, soil acidification and water and land use, the impact of fur production was much more harmful than that of the production of common textiles. Furs are absolutely loaded with toxic chemicals in order to keep them from decomposing in buyers' closets. And a warning to parents – just last week, a disturbing new study found unsafe levels of potentially carcinogenic chemicals in the fur trim on several brands of children's clothing – including Canada Goose, Woolrich, Nickelson and Airforce. So not only is fur terrible for the environment, it also poses a very real risk to human health.
And while it's true that PETA thinks fur-wearers look cold and heartless, we have never thrown paint on anyone (although I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't get a little bit of satisfaction out of seeing fur-wearers' bad karma playing itself out).
In this day and age, there is absolutely no justification for keeping animals in tiny cages, where they go mad from confinement, or catching wild animals in steel-jaw traps, where they languish in agony, sometimes for days, with crushed bones. Thankfully, most people agree and wouldn't be caught dead in fur. Even without considering the unimaginable suffering of animals who are skinned alive in China, I challenge Hamdan to sit through PETA's video exposé of supposedly "high-welfare" farms in Europe.
No one with an ounce of compassion could condone wearing fur after seeing it. I hope it will lead her to have a change of heart. If so, as it has with thousands of others, she can donate her unwanted furs to PETA's fur donation programme so we can send them to refugees or give them to the homeless. Only people who are truly struggling to survive have any excuse at all for wearing fur.
* Mimi Bekhechi is director of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) UK