A Buyer’s Guide To A Cruelty-Free Canadian Winter
Coats, Gloves, Jackets, Boots And Everything You'll Need This Winter
As much as I’d like to believe in the existence of endless summer, the sweater I’m wearing as I write this is a harsh kick from reality: Canadian winter is coming. It’s time to invest in coats, boots, hats, and all of the other cold-weather trimmings. It can be tough to spend your dollars ethically when preparing for winter, so we’ve pulled together some information that will help you know your materials, to stay both warm and cruelty-free.
We know it means killing animals, you know it means killing animals: the ethical issues here are obvious and abundant, but it’s important to us to call it out on this list anyway. Whether it comes from a fur farm or an animal caught in the wild, choosing to wear fur (including the popular trim on many winter jackets) means an animal had to die, and in all likelihood suffer, for your fashion choices. With plenty of vegan materials available that can be just as warm, there’s no need for us to choose animal fur.
If you still like the look and soft feel of fur trim on a jacket, there are plenty of polyester faux furs that have never harmed a hair on an animal's head. Noize makes a great faux option for ladies and for men, and it’s easy to go vegan and still have cozy feet with Nae’s faux fur boots.
"Just Another Day Of Commuting"
A lot of people assume leather is simply a byproduct of the meat industry, but in many cases the pelts of animals earn more money than their meat does; in this way, the two support each other. Knowing where (and what animals) your leather comes from is also a major issue. Poor labelling means origin is often difficult to trace, but much of our leather supply in North America comes from developing countries, where animal cruelty regulations are next to non-existent. Even on our own continent, animals in factory farms are subjected to horrific conditions before they are slaughtered for their pelts and meat. Add to all this the fact that leather is easily damaged by water and salt, and not even all that warm in comparison to many synthetic materials. It’s tough to argue for it as a good choice in our harsh winters.
Vegan (synthetic) leather is becoming more and more popular, especially in shoes and bags. Dr. Marten’s is on the vegan train, Dawgs has a great vegan Uggs knock-off for those who like to keep their feet extra cozy, and these vegan leather gloves for men or women look just like the real thing.
"Where's The Snow Brush Again?"
Perhaps the most popular choice in Canadian parkas (we’re glaring at you, Canada Goose), down is made up of the small, soft, quill-less feathers found closest to the skin of ducks and geese. While it is possible to collect down that has been shed naturally from birds’ nests, the process is time consuming, and results in extremely expensive down products that most consumers can't afford. Most down is harvested from birds slaughtered for their meat, or live plucked from the animals in a cruel and painful practice still legal in countries such as China, Poland and Hungary. Ducks and geese who are live plucked are repeatedly left with major fleshwounds, and some documentary footage has shown them being stitched up without the use of anaesthetic.
Wuxly (formerly known as Wully Wear) makes fantastic winter parkas rated up to -30°C for both men and women. These completely vegan jackets are filled with Primaloft, a synthetic fill that is just as warm, and stands up to water much better than down can. Check out a few of our favourites for men and women. Primaloft can be used anywhere down typically would be, which makes it a great choice in these gloves as well
Wool often seems like the ethical alternative, as sheep are not killed for their wool, and they are sheared instead of plucked. Unfortunately, cruel practices are a real problem in the wool industry. Sheep have been bred to have more wrinkly skin, which in turn offers more surface area for wool to grow. These folds are an attractive place for insects to lay their eggs, leading to myiasis (commonly known as flystrike), an infestation of the skin by maggots. To prevent this problem, many sheep farmers practice mulesing, the removal of patches of skin on the sheep’s hindquarters, often done without anaesthetic and creating its own problems of painful infection. Even where mulesing is not allowed, sheep are often treated extremely roughly while being sheared, causing other cuts and wounds on their skin.
Vaute Couture uses a combination of organic cotton fibres and Primaloft to create beautiful wool-look dress jackets for women and men. It’s also easy to find warm gloves, hats and scarves made from lyocell (often branded as Tencel), fleece, cotton, hemp, and other plant-based or synthetic fibres.
Photo by: darioayala