‘Ethically-sourced’ is the latest marketing term in green washing campaigns

‘Ethically-sourced’ is the latest marketing term in green washing campaigns

‘Ethically-sourced’ is popping up on retailer’s websites as they try and convince consumers to make conscientious purchases.

What exactly does ‘ethically-sourced’ mean, was a question we’ve asked – and one posed to us by supporter Victoria in an email after seeing this product from The Bay. And here’s the answer: it’s totally meaningless.

Ethics are entirely subjective. Without context, or a clearly explained set of standards that are verified or monitored by a third-party, however, The Fur-Bearers treat the term ethically-sourced with great trepidation.

Please note: what follows includes graphic descriptions of animal suffering

For example, coyote fur can be called ethically-sourced if a (potentially pregnant or a parent) coyote was caught by a leg-hold trap in the wild, where she was left to suffer and fight for 24 hours. Then, a trapper came and shot her in the head, or, to save money, crushed her chest or skull with a boot or bat. All of these steps described are entirely legal, and the leg-hold trap is actually considered humane as defined in a trade agreement. Therefore, one could argue that the fur taken from that coyote is ethically sourced. On a fur farm in Canada, a sociable fox is kept alone in a small cage until anally electrocuted. These are “best practices” and therefore, by some standards, ethically-sourced.

All that isn’t to say that ethically-sourced products don’t exist. But it’s vital that, as consumers, we question what that means. By whose standards are these ethics set? How are they measured or monitored? Are they simply less bad than other practices in whatever industry, or are they significantly improved?

Green washing, the attempt by businesses to make themselves seem environmentally noble through marketing when they or their products are not environmentally-friendly or putting environmental concerns first,is a major issue. In the fur industry, humane, ethically-sourced, and green are terms that are thrown around. But never doubt, forcing an animal to endure suffering of any kind for a questionably fashionable commodity is not ethical.


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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible.

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