The controversy surrounding Canada Goose and fur seems never ending. Animal rights organisations such as PETA have lobbied against Canada Goose since 2006, to stop them using coyote fur trimmed hoods on their Parka coats. The endless petitioning and activism may have finally had a positive outcome, as seen in the companies new announcement.
Recently, Canada Goose Holdings Inc. announced they will not be purchasing or using virgin fur in their $1000+ dollar Parka coats from 2022. For context, virgin fur refers to the fur that has been procured through paid hunting services by the company. Within Canada Goose's new announcement, they promise to end the purchase of virgin fur and instead use reclaimed fur. This is fur that has been procured from materials produced from waste, cuttings, and used garments.
This begs the question: is this a dent in the harmful fur trade, or a example of public pandering?
Canada Goose's Reasoning
Canada Goose has several arguments, for using animal fur, and their controversial choices as a company.
One argument for the company's continued use of fur is the extreme functionality it provides in weather conditions. Utilising the fur's density makes it practical for cold weather and more insulatory than synthetic alternatives
Canada Goose also provide strict guidelines on the conduct of their hunters. The guidelines state that they, 'Do not tolerate any willful mistreatment' of animals and they 'Only source from trappers who are regulated by state, provincial and federal standards'
The US government also cull 90,000 coyotes a year in population control areas to prevent overpopulation. Therefore, Canada Goose's commitment to using coyote fur seems less of a case of environmental extinction and more of a participation in a system that would exist without them
For all these reasons, Canada Goose are still attempting to be more ethical with their decision to use reclaimed fur. This constitutes using fur that is from waste, off cuts or used clothing. Consequently, by negatively impacting the hunting market, demand for freshly hunted fur goes down. So if Canada Goose are as ethical and committed as possible, what's the problem?
PETA and the Contrary Argument
Animal rights activists argue several reasons against reclaimed fur and animal fur use in general. PETA argue that the term 'reclaimed fur' is simply a marketing ploy to manipulate consumers. PETA's website argues the fur was stolen because it was "Taken from animals who didn’t give up their skin willingly". This moralistic and hyperethical viewpoint is applicable across the fur trade and and may resonate with some consumers.
However, PETA offer several other arguments directly against reclaimed fur:
Canada Goose has to source the fur from somewhere regardless of being virgin or reclaimed. This brings up the ethical problems with fur farmers and hunting. Farmed coyotes are raised in small cramped spaces and bludgeoned to death. If the coyotes are hunted, the traps used are rubber edged leg traps but don't let the terminology fool you, as these traps often break the leg of the animal. The fur, even if reclaimed, shows the signs of the past cruelty, which still remains an ethical issue
The participation of brands in the fur economy is inherently unethical as it is a cruel act. Animals are skinned alive in some cases, a vicious act that's brutal in nature. This perpetuates animal cruelty, and Canada Goose's failure to acknowledge this is unethical and misleading to consumers
The vain nature of animal sourced fashion is also unethical. It suggests that it is acceptable and moral for animals to suffer and languish in pain for human vanity and fashion. The only way to combat this is synthetic materials, which Canada Goose refuses to do
The Verdict on the Fur Argument and Canada Goose's Policy Change
The conclusion on if Canada Goose's new policy is a step forward or consumer manipulation, can be surmised depending on where you sit on the fur argument. Canada Goose's choice to harm the hunting and fur market is commendable, as reclaimed fur prevents the fur/hunting industry from growing further. The environmental impact of reusing old fur is also worth celebrating as it recycles old furs, benefiting the environment. However, the unethical practice of hunting, skinning, and wearing animals is enough to derail Canada Goose's argument.
This leaves us with the final problem with the debate. Certain people will forever believe animal hunting and produce is unethical and immoral due to suffering and death of the animals, whereas others will believe that if the process of hunting and death is as painless as possible, then it is acceptable. And one thing is for sure, brands such as Canada Goose will continue to present more ethical practices to attempt to swing people in their favour. Therefore, it's best to do your own research, as animal rights and consumer consciousness are important issues worth your time. For more information on the fur debate see this article on Mindless.