Humans have used leather, wool and fur for years and billions of animals are brutally slaughtered each year for the clothing industry. Mass production of fur and leather items has created a cruel system of farming, trapping, and skinning and, has sparked uproar among animal rights activists.
Leather is probably one of the most fashionable fabrics used in clothing. Leather jackets, coats, gloves, boots… Few people actually realise they are wearing the skins of animals who have been killed in the millions to feed such inhumane production. Where does leather come from? To start with, your leather almost certainly is sourced from China or India. They can be ripped from cattle or even unborn calves. No way to be absolutely sure when buying mainstream leather. But even before this occurs, they need to be transported to the factories. The animals are often made to walk for days without rest, food and water. They are thrashed or injured to keep them walking despite the dehydration. Many of them perish even before reaching the factory. Once the animals get there, they are kept in narrow enclosures, where they may be castrated without anaesthesia, dehorned or branded. They then face the inevitability of the slaughterhouses. They are hanged upside down, still alive, and they are made to bleed to death before their skin is carved out. It is then treated using extremely dangerous chemicals. According to The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA, cancer risk was higher near tanneries due to such chemicals being used. The workers there undoubtedly are in contact with these chemicals and their health could be at risk. Leather is exported by countries such as Kenya, Hong Kong or Spain.
Wool is another worldwide fabric used to make cosy, comfortable and warm garments which are specially used during winter seasons. However, contrary to popular beliefs, sheep do not need to be sheared. Sheep naturally produce the right amount of wool they need to protect themselves from weather conditions. Furthermore, shearing usually needs to be done before spring, before they instinctively shed their winter coat. However, due to the fact that shearing too late is equal to loss of wool and ultimately a decrease in profits for industries, most sheep are sheared when it’s still cold and an estimated 1 million sheep die from exposure. Australia is famous for the production of merino wool, but few known about mulesing. Sheep in Australia are specifically bred to have wrinkled skin which will increase wool production. This skin is prone to flystrike, a condition in which flies lay eggs in the skin and the maggots eat the sheep alive. To prevent this, farmers cut huge pieces of skin from the buttock area. This is practised without anaesthesia, causing great pain to the animal. Also, once their wool production declines, most sheep are sent to slaughter. They travel long distances, cramped and in crowded conditions, and most of them die from dehydration, injury and exhaustion.
Cosmetics—typically defined as products that are intended to be applied or introduced into the human body for the purposes of cleansing or beautification. Animal testing for cosmetics was instituted in the 1940s in response to serious injuries suffered by people who were exposed to unsafe beauty products. Today, many companies actually have no need to test, as their formularies rely upon ingredients that are classified as “generally recognized as safe.” Animals are still used to assess the safety of cosmetics and personal care products — such as lipstick, mascara, shampoo, and cologne. It is estimated that 500,000 mice, guinea pigs, rats, and rabbits suffer and die in these tests every year throughout the world. Pain relief is rarely provided and the animals used are always killed at the end of each test. However, at ELI Africa, we believe that animals have the same right as humans and they should not be subject to these kind of treatments.
Nowadays, we have unlimited choices when it comes to clothing; textures of all sorts are being manufactured but demand in leather, fur and wool keeps rising. It is simply unacceptable. We sure can be fashionable without wearing an animal skin; many people wear them just for the sake of wearing them. Change starts by us. Bearing the cruelty endured by animals for us, we all should try to shift how we perceive fashion because wearing fur or leather provides no additional benefits compared to faux leather which is almost indistinguishable from real leather today.
Therefore, we should push for better measures to protect animal rights and discourage animal experimentation. Remember that at every instance we have the choice to stop the cruelty by choosing other fabrics instead of leather, wool or fur, and buying cosmetics which have not been tested on animals. It’s not too late to protect animals. So, join our cause and stand up for the welfare of animals.