At the end of my recent post about Caché’s decision to stop selling fur, I mentioned that people can donate unwanted furs to PETA for use in demonstrations, giveaways to the homeless, and other educational events. Now, it seems there’s another use for fuggly, unpopular furs: sopping up oil in the Gulf Coast.
Fur and hair are oil magnets, as you can tell from all the photos of oil-covered sea animals, so Matter of Trust, a San Francisco-based charity, is collecting hair and fur and crafting it into oil-absorbing “hairmats” to help soak up the mess in the gulf.
My dog sheds all day long. Short of knitting her fur into a sweater—or a “toy” dog—there’s not much else to do with her “excess” hair, so I’ll send it along to Matter of Trust. But it seems that people with “full” furs can help even more by sending their fur coats, stoles, muffs, and other fur “garments” to help animals affected by the oil spill.
What irony. The fur industry has poisoned, gassed, beaten, electrocuted, or skinned alive countless foxes, minks, chinchillas, and other fur-bearing animals, and now caring people may be able to use the animals’ pelts to help save birds, fish, sea turtles, and other marine animals who are in danger of dying because of an oil industry spill. What was worn by a once self-absorbed individual could now be used to absorb oil to help save animals, the only ones who should be wearing fur in the first place.
Wouldn’t it be nice if furriers donated their inventory to Matter of Trust—and then shut down shop, of course? I certainly don’t think it’s too much to ask. The fur industry is on its way out anyway. According to one fur trade journal, U.S. mink farms sold 28,000 fewer skins in 2009 than in 2008, and the value of the skins that were sold dropped by 38 percent. Fur imports also dropped considerably in the same time span. Caché and many other popular retailers, including J. Crew, JC Penny, Express, Ann Taylor, Gap, Banana Republic, Liz Claiborne, Lane Bryant, Polo Ralph Lauren, Forever 21, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, and American Eagle Outfitters, consider fur to be a liability and refuse to sell it.. Canadian sealers have been massacring animals for years, and the worldwide demand for seal fur is plummeting.
We can’t bring the animals who suffered and died for fur coats and trim back from the dead, no matter how much we wish, write, or protest. But fur peddlers can, for once, do something to help save animals by going out of business and shipping their remaining stock to Matter of Trust to help sop up the oil that is devastating wildlife and destroying beaches.
I’m not holding my breath though.
But we can all still do our part to help. Please encourage your grandmother, great aunt, or anyone else who might have an old fur in their closet to send it to Matter of Trust. If the only fur in your family is on your dog or cat, where it belongs, give your companion a good (relaxing) brushing and mail the loose fur to Matter of Trust. Hair salons can also help by sending human hair. We can’t all comb the beaches and go out in the gulf to clean oiled-animals, but we can all gather fur and hair to help absorb the oil.
To find out what else you can do to help, see Care2′s coverage of the oil spill.