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The British Fashion Council (BFC) recently acknowledged, "We are facing a climate change emergency and all need to act." As leather is the most environmentally damaging material in use by the fashion industry, it's time that the BFC banned it from its catwalks – and did the same with fur.
Far from being a mere "by-product" of meat production, leather is a lucrative co-product and a US$100-billion-a-year industry. Every year, more than 1 billion animals are subjected to the horrors of intensive confinement, castration without pain relief, extreme crowding, and a terrifying trip to the abattoir. The PETA US video exposé above shows that calves are dragged from their mothers and given electric shocks and that they writhe in pain as workers stand on their faces while branding them with hot irons.
Leather production is also poisoning the living world as a result of the massive amounts of manure and slaughter waste, intensive water use, deforestation, and greenhouse-gas emissions involved in raising animals for their skin. The chemicals used by tanneries are also harmful to humans: unprotected workers, including children, stand barefoot as they soak hides in these carcinogenic substances. The toxic waste is then dumped into waterways.
More and more designers are doing the right thing for animals by rejecting fur – which is also responsible for environmental devastation and cruelty to animals. But the BFC is yet to reflect changing times and British values by ensuring that fur is never again allowed to be paraded down the catwalk at London Fashion Week.
Please join us in urging the BFC to introduce a ban on leather and fur at all its events. It should instead give designers a platform to showcase the multitude of vegan leather and faux-fur options available – including both natural fabrics and recycled synthetics – which have a far lighter environmental footprint and don't contribute to animal abuse.