Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Word Wednesday: Fur

I have a habit of plucking a word out of thin air and then having no idea what to write about... I thought really hard last night after choosing fur about what I could write and this is what I came up with...

My Gran came from a different era, where if your husband could afford to buy you a fur coat, you were a lucky, lucky lady. She had two. They sat in her wardrobe like two large funeral shrouds. They were thick and heavy and shapeless in their old fashioned, long coated style. She loved them, although I have few memories of her ever wearing them.

Times changed and attitudes with them. To actively wear fur in this country now is asking for trouble! When she died, we didn't really know what to do with them. Neither I, nor my sister, wanted them. Truth be told I am not really sure what my parents did with them in the end, maybe they went to a charity shop, maybe they went in a bin, who knows.

Is all use of fur bad however? I am not a vegetarian, I love to eat meat. I don't have anything against leather, it is a useful end for a cow's skin and prevents waste. I have a problem with elephants being driven to the edge of extinction for ivory but not with sustainably farmed ivory from culled animals or already dead animals. (Anyone who thinks elephants shouldn't be culled would do well to look at the National Geographic from last summer which looked at issues. I am not sure what my opinion is or of my right to have one, where the future of elephants is safeguarded and the number of elephants in a park is causing damage to the environment in it's own right.)

I also admire the Native Americans amongst other groups for the way in which they developed their use of the animals they hunted so that hardly anything is wasted. They didn't over hunt and lived in a very sustainable way upon their land. So looking at pictures of lovely hand crafted fur clothing worn in places like Alaska doesn't offend me. There is a real and genuine need for the clothes that are made as they are better than the artificial offerings made of synthetic things. I find it hard to imagine the meat of these animals being wasted, at the very least they would feed it to their dogs, wouldn't they?

So why were these coats of my Gran's so very offensive? The animals were long dead, from a time when they may well have been cruelly farmed. Surely it would have been more respectful of the animals to carry on wearing to coats to show we valued their loss? We couldn't do it. It felt wrong.

When I die, I hope any part of my body that can be, is used to help some other person live. This includes my skin. I don't however wish to die in order for this to happen. I also see no need for a fur of a dead animal to be wasted as by wasting it, petrochemicals have to be used to produce artificial clothing. I think the problem is when the animals are killed sense-lessly and wastefully in a non-sustainable manner, JUST to make someone look pretty. Killing to eat or keep warm is something else or indeed to safeguard an environment etc. Wasting a parts of an animal because of our sensibilities is a crime, I think though. If we deem a death necessary, then we should benefit as much as possible from that death.

I could still never have worn those coats or ever consider buying or wearing a fur coat though...

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