Wool, Leather, and Down
Each year, millions of animals in the U.S. are killed to produce wool, leather, down, and other fibers used in the textile industry. These animals are raised in miserable conditions, subjected to cruel practices, and killed young — all to produce fibers that are unnecessary for comfort, utility, or even fashion. Thanks to innovations in plant-based and synthetic materials, excellent alternatives now exist for all these animal-based products.
- Sheep used for wool suffer profoundly. Most wool comes from Australia, where Merino sheep are the most prevalent breed. Bred to have wrinkly skin, Merinos are vulnerable to infestations of fly larva, and the preventative measure favored by farmers is “mulesing,” in which large swaths of skin are sliced from a lamb’s backside. The lambs are given no anesthetics or painkillers during this mutilation.
- Shearers are paid by the sheep, not by the hour. This policy encourages them to rush, resulting in painful nicks and cuts in the sheeps’ skin. These wounds can easily become infected, and in herds of thousands, individual medical care for this or any other ailment is rare.
- After years of brutal and often bloody shearing, sheep are slaughtered for meat. Australian sheep are packed by the thousands onto crowded ships for torturous journeys of up to three weeks. Their destination is the Middle East, where poorly enforced slaughter regulations and local religious customs mean sheep may have their throats cut while fully conscious.
- You’ve probably heard the “byproduct myth”: An animal is already being slaughtered for meat, so why not use the skin for leather? The truth is that the high demand for leather makes leather production an industry of its own. Purchasing leather allows the beef industry to be more profitable and fuels the entire market for cows’ bodies.
- Leather comes from cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and other animals slaughtered for meat. This means that every leather shoe or handbag is made from the flesh of an animal who spent his or her life suffering on a factory farm.
- Some down comes from slaughtered ducks and geese. After birds slaughtered for meat have their throats slashed, they are dunked into tanks of boiling water to remove their feathers. Some of the birds are still conscious when they enter the tanks; they are boiled alive. A single down coat is the product of the suffering and deaths of several ducks or geese.
- In some regions, ducks and geese are “live-plucked.” This means that living birds are held down as feathers are ripped from their bodies. They endure this painful process three to four times before slaughter.
To learn more about cruelty-free clothing, visit our vegan fashion page.