So you’ve just immersed yourself into the world of animal rights. Or maybe you’re just doing some spring closet-cleaning. Either way, you may be asking yourself: what do I do with this old fur coat?
Especially if you’ve just woken up to the cruelty behind fur and other clothing made with animal parts, you may be wanting to discard these items without just putting them on the backs of other people — kind of defeats the purpose of throwing them out, doesn’t it? Sure, you could sell the coat or give it to a friend or family member, but if you’re trying to tell the world that wearing fur is wrong, you might be sending the wrong message by encouraging loved ones to go ahead and suit up.
One fellow Care2 blogger compared giving away fur to removing the meat from her plate, only to give it to others at the table. Well, it is already made, right? But that’s not the point! People discarding fur for animal welfare reasons are generally doing it because they don’t believe anyone should be wearing fur — not just because they don’t want to wear it.
So what do you do with those cruel coats? Bonfire?
If you don’t want humans to wear the skin of others, you might initially be put off by PETA’s fur giveaway. But like PETA says, the homeless “are the only people who have any excuse to wear fur.”
On Tuesday, NBA all-star Gilbert Arenas hosted a fur giveaway in Washington, D.C. During these giveaways, PETA hands over fur coats that have been donated to the organization, to homeless people living in the city. A subtle, dark band is shaved into the coats so they can not be resold and to show they were part of PETA’s program.
Maybe this doesn’t sit well with you. When I first heard of it, something just felt…funny. But in the end, I had to consider the good it does, and the fact that I can’t think of a better alternative.
It would be wonderful if we had tons of synthetic coats to give away to the homeless, but for many of us, that’s not possible. And like another blogger said, it’s not like we can snap our fingers and turn the coats back into animals. It seems that groups like PETA have found a way to make something out of a bad situation.
The program has positive benefits, both from a human and animal rights perspective. The program keeps people who could not otherwise afford warm coats protected from the harsh winter cold. It also combats the stigma that fur coats are luxurious items meant for the upper class to flash and for everyone else to covet.
PETA uses the donated coats in a variety of ways that fight fire with fire (or that fight fur with fur). In addition to the homeless giveaway program, they also use the coats for education displays, as props in theater-style protests, and they give them to wildlife rehabilitators.
Wildlife rehabs also receive donated coats from the Humane Society’s program, Coats for Cubs. They use the coats to soothe injured and orphaned animals. They even turn sleeves of the coats inside-out for animals to burrow inside. It might seem strange that an animal would feel comforted by cuddling up against the skin of another [dead] animal, but apparently, it works.
Thankfully, many people have become aware of the horrifying realities of the fur industry. And if you haven’t, this website (along with a number of other resources) succinctly explains the facts about fur, like that it is NOT a byproduct of the meat industry and there are no laws protecting animals on fur farms.
Even wearing vintage fur still sends the message that fur is “cool” and encourages others to buy it, etc. Fashion really should be something fun. Something that people can use to express themselves — not something that contributes to the suffering of others. Like the old saying goes, there’s nothing glamourous about bludgeoning an innocent rabbit (or chinchilla or mink or dog or cat) to death, for the sake of a coat!
Sure, I would love it if fur coats didn’t exist at all, but they do. Animal welfare groups have found compassionate ways to turn fur into something positive. What do you think? What do you do with your wardrobe rejects? Should fur coats be completely banned from the backs of humans, or are they okay for the homeless?
If you want to donate your fur items for good, or you just can’t figure out what to do with nana’s musty, old, fox stole (my grandma actually had one…with the HEAD STILL ON!), you can donate to PETA’s fur program or to Coats for Cubs. Just pack up that fugly fur in a well-sealed box and ship it out:
Attn: Fur Campaign
501 Front St.
Norforlk, VA 23510
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L St., NW
Washiongton, D.C. 20037
Attn: Coats for Cubs