Environmental Impacts and Science
According to Statistics Canada, 80% of the animals killed for fur in Canada come from fur farms. Like other forms of factory farming, it is a gross misuse of resources, and an environmentally destructive process.
Fur farming is a gross misuse of resources
- Farmed fur outscores other textiles by 2-28 times for land use and climate change.
- Farmed fur requires up to 20 times more GHGs than other textiles.
- For each kilogram of factory farmed mink fur, 563 kilograms of feed is required (another report states that 228 kilograms of manure is produced)
The average Canadian fur farm requires approximately 600,000 kilograms of feed each year, and produces about 240,000 kilograms of manure.
Fur farming is an environmentally destructive process
- Farmed fur outscores other textiles from 2-28 times for ozone layer depletion, soil and water pollution, and toxic emissions.
- For each kilogram of factory farmed mink fur, 110 kilograms of carbon dioxide is produced; enough to drive a car from Toronto to Saint John, New Brunswick.
In Nova Scotia, home to the majority of Canada’s fur farms, manure runoff from mink operations has been identified by the David Suzuki Foundation as a major threat to soil and water quality, posing serious risks for fish, birds, farmed and wild animals, humans, and the environment. A 2009 government assessment found 37 of 38 fur farms allowed runoff to flow into wood, swamps, marshes or wet pasture, while a separate water quality survey identified mink farms as “the most likely source of contamination” for 10 of the province’s lakes. The David Suzuki Foundation has expressed concern that “[t]he Department of Agriculture, the primary promoter of the fur industry, is also the primary regulator” and that the phosphorous loading in these Nova Scotia lakes will have dire ecological consequences.
Taking their cues from big oil and big tobacco, in 2008 the Fur Council of Canada (FCC) launched their “Fur is Green” campaign in an attempt to divert attention from animal cruelty concerns — which had been steadily driving down demand for decades — while capitalizing on green consumerism. Pitching fur as “natural, renewable and sustainable”, the campaign tried to convince Canadians that fur is not only environmentally benign, but actually beneficial.
Despite this obvious conflict of interest and the preposterous notion that killing wildlife is an excellent way to “help nature,” the “Fur is Green” campaign remains largely unchallenged. Why? Because there isn’t that much to challenge, given that Canada’s Competition Bureau doesn’t restrict or qualify the use of terms like “green” or “environmentally friendly” — terms even the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and International Standards Organization have deemed “too vague to be meaningful.” Meanwhile, advertising standards committees in England, Denmark, Holland, Finland and Italy have ruled that advertising fur as environmentally friendly is “false and misleading”.
Water Quality Survey of Ten Lakes Located in the Carleton River Watershed Area of Digby and Yarmouth Counties, Nova Scotia
Acadia Centre for Estuarine Research
“The lakes exhibiting the most serious symptoms of nutrient over-enrichment were located within the upper region of the study area and in close proximity to a high concentration of mink farming operations, the activities of which are most likely to be the major source of nutrients leading to nutrient over-enrichment of the lakes.”
David Suzuki Foundation
“Assuming a conservative estimate that 70 per cent of industry growth occurred in the Wentworth-Carleton River watershed, approximately 18,200 tonnes of manure will be produced annually by the mink. This will include 455 tonnes of phosphorus and 910 tonnes of nitrogen from the manure as well as 16,380,000 liters of urine annually that can affect surface and groundwater in the watershed area. This does not take into account any phosphorus or nitrogen produced from waste feed or chemical agents used in the farming process. It should also be noted that it is impossible to quantify the proportion of urine that is immediately absorbed in the soil.”
“Compared with textiles, fur has a higher impact per kg in 17 of the 18 environmental categories, including climate change, eutrophication and toxic emissions. In many cases, fur has impacts that are a factor 2 to 28 higher than textiles, even when lower-bound values are taken for various links in the production chain.”
The Humane Society of the United States
“This paper addresses the fur industry’s claims and demonstrates how the use of animal fur by the fashion industry is far from environmentally friendly. Rather, the production of fur for fashion imposes significant adverse impacts on both the environment and human health.”
Born Free USA
“Environmentally harmful chemicals including chromium and formaldehyde are used in the processing and tanning to keep the hides and fur from rotting. In 1991 six New Jersey fur processors/tanners were fined more than 2 million dollars for releasing toxic waste into the environment (EPA 1991). Tanneries more than any other business are on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list that identifies the priority environmental clean-ups.”
“Current husbandry systems cause serious problems for all species of animals reared for fur.”