How to Create a Kind Closet
Years ago, if someone mentioned vegan and fashion in the same sentence, I would think, “But I don’t look good in beige and hemp scratches!” Fast forward, and here we are in a day and time with limitless kind choices. There is no reason to sacrifice color, look, feel, warmth or comfort – you can have your fabulous style and be kind!
First, let’s talk about why. Why should we care about making our closets kind?
Because when we wear animals, we are supporting pain and suffering. Just think about it for a moment: why would we truly want to wear someone else’s skin, feathers or fur? I would never wear my cat, so why would I wear any other animal?
Here’s what I used to see when I would look in my closet: a down coat and vest, leather and suede boots, shoes, belts and handbags, plus some wool, cashmere and angora sweaters. Sound familiar? Sure, for most of my life, that was my closet without a second thought other than how I was going to pay for it all!
Then I started to learn about what actually happens to the animals before they are in my closet. There is plenty of detailed information available for those of you that wish to explore further, but for our purposes here today, I will not share any images as most just can’t be unseen. Instead, let’s concentrate on all the amazing alternatives that are available for the most common fashion items.
Birds of a feather can continue to flock together
Since down is such a large component of coats (and vests), let’s start with it. Down feathers are the small, wonderfully soft feathers closest to a bird’s skin. For years, I thought, well, they’re feathers, they must just fall out and workers collect them, transport them to a clothing manufacturer and then stuff them into a coat. Painless, right? Boy was I wrong! These lovely birds are either plucked alive (can you even imagine how painful that would be?) or become the by-product of the meat or fois gras industry.
Luckily today, there are a large number of down alternative materials that are just as lightweight and offer just as much warmth! Look for materials such as “down alternative” (which is usually polyester), polyester, polyester-filled, microfiber or nylon.
Faux the animals
Do we need to touch on fur? In this day and age, I am going to believe that most, if not all of us, are already aware of the tortuous conditions and practices of the fur industry. If not, now is the time. We need to break the generational cyclical belief that fur is glamourous when it couldn’t be further from the truth. The good news is that many brands have already banned fur or are banning fur in their upcoming season.
Faux fur is readily available everywhere these days. Please remember to buy from reputable brands as there have been plenty of cases of mislabeling real fur as faux fur. When in doubt, just leave it out!
What about wool, angora, mohair and cashmere? I certainly didn’t think there were any issue with these. I mean, the animals are “sheered,” and then they go back and graze on the lush, green hillsides, right? Well, not exactly. In this industry, workers and/or machines are pulling or cutting hair from live animals. Wait, what? I thought this was a gentle process? Why would hair be “pulled” off? I could never “pull” hair off an animal. The wool industry, like almost all other industries, is based off of speed and quantity. Once animal welfare isn’t the priority, animals can suffer anything from cuts to accidental amputations during the violent sheering process. The good news is that more and more fashion brands are exposed to this reality, and they are banning the use of some in their future production runs. Click here for a list of companies now banning Angora. Good news again, there are plenty of kind alternatives! Look for materials such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, cotton, linen or rayon
‘Til the cows come home
I used to think that leather was the by-product of the meat industry. I’d question, “So isn’t it best to not waste any part of the animal if they are going to be killed for meat anyway?” Again, not true (and so many things are wrong with that question, I can’t believe I was the one that asked it!). Many calves and cows are raised in horrific conditions, suffer immensely and are killed specifically for the leather industry. There is also a huge amount of waste in the leather industry. Not only do animals suffer and lose their lives, but in some instances, if the animal’s hide has imperfections, it isn’t even used. China is one of the main suppliers of world’s leather. To keep costs down, some small leather goods are actually made from dogs (indistinguishable from cow), and we won’t go into how they are raised or killed.
Now, let’s talk about all the chemicals involved in the tanning process. Think about animal skin, in its natural form; it’s biodegradable right? But my leather jacket never just simply started to disintegrate as I wore it. It didn’t because it was treated with a number of chemicals – chemicals which have been known to cause cancer. Chemicals which pollute the air and water supplies. Chemicals that cause huge health risks to the tannery workers and surrounding areas.
So, what can we wear? Again, great news! Lots of materials to choose from and more and more styles become available every day!
Look for materials such as polyurethane (PU), microfiber, canvas, cork, nylon, Pinatex (Pin-a-what? Pinatex! Pinatex is a new, innovative material made from the fibers of the pineapple leaves that resembles leather). Do be aware of PVC or vinyl. While these materials don’t involve animals, they do have detrimental environmental consequences.
Companies continue to develop products that are more eco-friendly and sustainable and a number of vegan companies are now using Eco-polyurethane (a friendlier version of PU) as well as recycled plastic and up-cycled cotton for linings.
Aim for progress not perfection
When you start to realize all the different items that contain animals, it can be very overwhelming to figure out how to buy cruelty-free. Don’t regress just because you aren’t successful overnight. Don’t give up just because you still have animal products in your closet. Transition as best you can.
Every purchase matters. Every kind choice matters. No matter how small.
Cheers to a kinder closet in 2018!
To help quickly identify if a shoe or boot is made from leather or man-made materials, here is a guide of symbols that are usually found on the soles of shoes and boots.
A few favorites that carry vegan clothing and/or accessories:
Author: Rebecca Arum Littman
Author Bio: After decades working in fashion, retail design and merchandising for large organizations, Rebecca realized there was a serious disconnect between her love of fashion and her love of animals. With a passion for both, she recently launched an online handbag boutique, Kind Style Shop, based in Columbus, Ohio. Kind Style Shop offers a large selection of quality bags, all from trusted brands at a terrific value. And the best part? No animals were harmed in the making of any of the bags.
Rebecca has a long history supporting local and national Animal Welfare Organizations as well as Animal Sanctuaries throughout the country, and she is also a proud supporter of Dress For Success & the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Link to social media or website: https://www.kindstyleshop.com/