In this episode, Kathryn Sussman interviews Animal Justice’s executive director Camille Labchuk about style versus ethics of winter coat brands that are marketed as indispensable for our cold winters. Camille Labchuk deplores that brands which are seen as proudly Canadian sometimes source fur and feathers under very concerning conditions.

Powerhouse animal rights lawyer Labchuk exposes the truth behind major brands’ sourcing on fur and feathers, including the distressing conditions and the lack of regulation on trapping coyotes in North America – whose fur ends up adorning our winter coats – and the inhumane geese-processing plants reselling down to jacket manufacturers. While acknowledging that many people don’t want to wear fur, Labchuk points out that most of us don’t pay attention to the trimmings on our winter coat, and are not aware of what is really involved in the product when we buy it. She provides useful insight on how to be informed about our choices in an industry that keeps growing, and how to stop unwittingly promoting animal fur.

“The reality is that there are all kind of other options out there that are animal-friendly. I think what we really need to do is to replace goose down in the supply chain, that is a really easy switch. Down is something internal to a jacket and no one will even notice that it’s replaced, so it’s easy to make that change.” – Camille Labchuk.

Though it is true that the fur trade is part of some First Nations’ traditions, and is helping them deal with frigid temperatures in the Canadian North, Kathryn and Gen discuss the necessity of wearing fur and down in big cities like Montreal or Toronto. Without trying to shame anyone, the co-hosts underscore the importance of simply being informed about the use of fur and down in our garments, and the availability of synthetic alternatives. They share useful tips on how to stop the trend without necessarily throwing out your winter coat, and how to shop for an ethical one next time around.

“Fur isn’t sustainable, because trapping animals causes a significant imbalance in the animal fur-bearing population, and it aggravates the status of native animals.” – Genevieve Douyon.

Our message of change: Choose cruelty free alternatives to fur and feathers when you buy your winter coat! Now you know!

Be part of the change!

  • Next time you go shopping, don’t just look at the price tag – enquire what’s inside the winter coat you are buying and consider buying synthetic materials.
  • Write to big winter coat brands and enquire of their use of animals, demanding that they replace fur and feathers with synthetic alternatives.
  • Make it clear to companies that they’re not going to win you over if they continue to use fur and down in their winter coats.
  • Do the research – a lot of high-end brands are very animal-friendly and conscious about not using animal fur and feathers in their products.
  • Whatever the brand you’re wearing, if it’s not ethically produced then try to switch.
  • Make the choice of not even wearing faux fur in order to not contribute to a perception that fur is stylish and fashionable, therefore avoiding to create confusion between fake and real fur.
  • Don’t throw out your old winter coat just yet! Hide the brand logo on your winter jacket with a patch – it’s a way to say that you are aware that the product you are wearing isn’t acceptable ethically and that your next purchase will be more responsible.
  • Donate your old jacket to a wildlife rescue to use in the rehabilitation of baby animals.
  • Educate others about animal welfare in regards to producing the garments we own.
  • Make sure that people are aware that now you know by sharing this podcast in your network.

What’s next?

Help us reach celebrity football player Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who is also a McGill medical school graduate and the founder of a foundation promoting a better future for the younger generations. Share this episode and tag him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, asking him to take a stance for the future by choosing synthetics over animal products.

Learn more

Listen to the full interview on Coyotes and Geese for Winter Garments with animal rights lawyer Camille Labchuk.

If you’ve enjoyed listening to our podcast, we’ve a favour to ask. A lot of volunteering goes into making Now You Know, but it still takes money to run. If you’d like to help us make future Now You Know podcasts, please consider donating. Thank you!

Kathryn, Gen and the Now You Know team.

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