No More Real Fur for Queen Elizabeth

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All new clothing items from now on will be made with fake fur.

The Queen of England's wardrobe is about to undergo a major change. A spokesperson from Buckingham Palace has confirmed that all new clothing made for the Queen from now on will use only fake fur. However, the 93-year-old monarch will continue to wear pieces with real fur that she already owns.

"We are not suggesting that all fur on existing outfits will be replaced, or that The Queen will never wear fur again," the spokesperson said. "The Queen will continue to re-wear existing outfits in her wardrobe." In other words, she'll be a proud outfit repeater, which is something we're always happy to hear at TreeHugger.

The move has been praised by animal rights activists who have long advocated for an end to fur in the fashion industry. Indeed, numerous fashion weeks and major luxury brands (and even the state of California) have opted to get rid of fur clothing in recent years, saying its production is cruel, especially on fur farms.

According to the activist group Fur-Free Alliance, animals raised for their fur are kept in small cages and exhibit a high number of stress-related welfare problems. These include "infected wounds, missing limbs from biting incidents, eye infections, bent feet, mouth deformities, self-mutilation, cannibalism of dead siblings or offspring and other stress-related stereotypical behaviour."

The Queen's decision symbolizes a major shift from the centuries-old tradition of royalty wearing fur. As the National Post reported, the move "reflects the more modern viewpoints about the use of fur in fashion... 'Fur used to be a status symbol, of course, but it isn't anymore.'"

While I support an end to animal cruelty, I am uncomfortable with the unquestioning embrace of synthetic alternatives. Fake fur may appear to be cruelty-free, but it's essentially plastic, and we know how harmful this can be to animals in the wild, once an item of clothing has been disposed of. Just because fake fur is vegan does not mean it's healthy or safe. I've cited Rachel Stott of the Future Laboratory before:

"Fashion brands should be commended for taking steps towards a cruelty-free supply chain, but the elimination of all animal products, regardless of whether they are ethically sourced, sends out a confusing message... It can give rise to low-value synthetic alternatives such as plastic-based PVC or ‘pleather’, which harbours its own environmental and ethical issues.
"The manufacturing processes used to create these involve toxic chemicals cause pollution in surrounding rivers and landfill sites. Currently there is no safe way to produce or dispose of PVC products, therefore consumers can be misled into thinking ‘vegan’ is entirely environmentally friendly."

If I were the Queen, I'd ditch the fake fur, as well as the real fur, and stick with natural fabrics that are completely biodegradable and compostable.