The Fur Debate: How to be Sustainable & Recycle Vintage Fur for Good Causes

January 13th, 2011


peta throwing paint on kim cattral wearing fur

A few weeks ago on the Sammy Davis Vintage fan page, I posed the following question:

“Where do you stand with wearing vintage fur?”

As I expected, the responses and opinions varied. Some stood strongly behind the right to wear fur — whether new OR old — and its underlying practice of hunting/trapping the animal in order to acquire it.

Others vocalized that they would never buy new fur, but that buying vintage fur was a form of recycling what already exists on this planet and putting it to better use than just collecting dust in your attic or hanging unworn in someone’s closet.

I’m a proponent of an individual’s rights to believe what they feel is right and subsequently, to do what they feel is right, too. As humans supportive of one another’s life experiences on this planet, I believe that we should work to educate and inspire, but never subjugate force to change someone’s action as it relates to our personal beliefs.

And that is why I wanted to give this full disclosure before jumping fully into today’s blog: While your neighbor may believe one thing, and you another, and myself even another thing … none of that really matters in the end. What matters is that you remain open to differing opinions and make the decision that’s best for YOU — and not to please your neighbor, and especially not to please me.

I’ve owned and sold vintage fur — and I’ve also been a vegetarian. I’ve also bought leather products, and I’ve even failed to recycle when I should.

No one is perfect in their consumption on this planet. But what is perfection, anyway? What I believe — and that which I hope to inspire with this blog post on 5 alternative ways to using and upcycling vintage fur — is that we remain conscious of how even little actions matter in maintaining a healthy, symbiotic relationship with mother earth and all of her animals, plants and the energy that is life itself.

So whatever your opinion before reading this post, and whatever your opinion after reading it … I welcome it.I especially welcome it in the comments below, because like just mentioned, my advice is not perfection. What’s perfection is a continuous conversation about the ideas that make our lives and the lives of all creatures great.

I hope you are inspired by this post as much as I was — and that you join in on the conversation about this always-relevant topic in the comments below! Or feel free to leave me a note on Facebook, Twitter or Email.

With love for you and for the planet!

xx, SD

1.) DONATE VINTAGE FUR TO KEEP INJURED & ORPHANED WILDLIFE WARM & SAFE

how to recycle vintage fur

THE DEETS: You can donate vintage fur to the Humane Society, who then repurpose the pieces to create beds, warm nests or surrogate mothers to orphaned and injured wildlife rescued and placed for recovery at wildlife rehabilitators. When the animals are strong enough, they are re-introduced back into the wild.

HOW IT’S SUSTAINABLE: Your vintage fur regains its original use for warmth, protection & nuturing — and for the animals where the fur originates from in the first place.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Drop off your vintage furs at any Buffalo Exchange store, a national buy/sell consignment store who have partnered with the Humane Society as a drop-off location for your unwanted furs, whether new or old.

MORE INFORMATION: The National Humane Society “Coats for Cubs” program

2.) DONATE FUR TO HOMELESS SHELTERS IN COLD-WEATHER COUNTRIES ABROAD

homeless man on street

THE DEETS: The United States can be a pretty cold place — but other countries? There’s a serious reason those people wear fur — and it’s not for fashion. Sure, there are warmer alternatives to wearing fur: The high tech insulation material “Polartek” is the perfect option — but how do the homeless, and the homeless shelters/non profits who support those individuals, get the money to support this expensive alternative? The reality is, they hardly have the money to maintain the base coats of their altruistic acts. So every donation, including vintage furs, counts.

HOW IT’S SUSTAINABLE: Fur locks in the body’s warmth, allowing the homeless turned away from shelters to stay alive on the streets. These garments aren’t being worn for luxury or for look — they are being worn for literal survival.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: In my research, I encountered some alarming stats on the amount of homeless living in St. Petersburg, Russia — where the temperatures drop below zero every winter night. The country’s infrastructure currently can’t support the estimated 54,000 homeless individuals living in its capital, according to an article from the St. Petersburg Times in 2009. Donating directly to homeless shelters in this country promises that your vintage fur will both literally — and figuratively — touch the life of someone in need and struggling to survive on a day-by-day basis.

MORE INFORMATION: International Women’s Club of Moscow, Action for Russia’s Children,  and the catch-all organization supporting the homeless [while in Russian, you can email the contact for more information on donations] Nochlezhka which means “night shelter” in English.

3.) DONATE VINTAGE FURS TO HISTORICAL REENACTMENT GROUPS

historical reenactment

THE DEETS: Historical reenactment groups act out scenes and illustrate valuable pieces of history to audiences of school children, enthusiasts, tourists and whomever [like you and me!] are just random passerby. These groups of history buffs volunteer their time to teach us what happened in the past so that we may move forward with knowledge and empowerment into our own “yet unknown” future. To convey history at its best, these groups benefit from historically accurate costumes — some of which could be outfitted with vintage furs.

HOW IT’S SUSTAINABLE: Unlike today, consumption of animals for food and fur was a different — ahem — “beast” than today. When a deer was hunted and killed in the 1700s, its entire body was used — down to the bones and yes … right up to the fur, too. Because historical reenactment groups are portraying a time when hunting and wearing fur was at its most sustainable, your donation is supporting the idea that our consumption should be conscious, calculated and considerate of the creature.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Research local theater and reenactment groups in your area through Meetup.com, a general Google search or the link below and ask if they’d like a donation.

MORE INFORMATION: Preservation Directory, a guide to national listings of living theaters/museums/tours and other historical reenactment related events which may benefit from your donation.

4.) DONATE VINTAGE FURS TO ENVIRONMENTAL CENTERS THAT EDUCATE

environmental center sign

THE DEETS: Remember visiting your local environmental center for an elementary school field trip? You probably oogled, touched and admired a lot of things “from the wild” and listened as a tour guide educated you on the ways of the wild. Environmental centers are like living museums of nature’s history — they operate to enlighten humans to understand that they are not the only animals on this planet, and should be respectful of this fact.

HOW IT’S SUSTAINABLE: Fur pieces are cut and presented as resources to learn rather than as functions of fashion. In other words, school children are not shown a fur coat in its entirety to learn the difference between possum and fox. Rather than encountering animals through fashion, they are encountering animals through an institution which supports the “healthy relationship” with mother earth and her creatures I spoke of in my introduction to this post.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Contact a local national park, environmental center or even a nature-oriented museum and ask if they’re interested in your donation. For specific ideas, ask a mother where her children have visited for an environmentally related field trip, and contact that institution directly. A Google search of “environmental center and [insert city, state here]” returns tons of ideas near you, too — and contact numbers to call!

MORE INFORMATION: Matter of Trust, a resource for reusing/upcycling various things [including fur!] toward various educational and positive causes

5.) UPCYCLE VINTAGE FURS INTO TEDDY BEARS AND DONATE TO WOMEN & CHILDREN’S SHELTERS

teddy bear made from vintage fur
THE DEETS: Your vintage fur is not only able to be upcycled, it can also be “repurposed” into something completely new — and something completely sweet, too. Use your vintage fur to make new “fur bears” for children currently living with their mothers in shelters.

HOW IT’S SUSTAINABLE: Your vintage fur is creating a product to help children in need of comfort and living in an environment where comfort is hard to come by. Instead of donating the fur directly to a shelter for women and children to wear, you are instead giving kindness in the form of stress-relief and nurture. Much like donating fur to a wildlife rehabilitation center, you are donating fur to those who are helpless of their unfortunate situation and deserve the luxuries of innocence: children.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Google search local women’s shelters in your area. Many of these shelters have annual drives for clothing and toys. To deliver more than just a few teddy bears, ask friends and family with fur coats to invest in the small cost to have their vintage fur repurposed into a teddy bear or two. That way, you can deliver enough teddy bears for every child at the shelter you choose to support.

MORE INFORMATION: Stadler Fur Bears markets itself as a company which takes your fur coats and makes them directly into the teddy bear of your choice. For other ideas, visit this directory of companies who make teddy bears from their own or your vintage fur.

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8 Comments

  1. Nancy Little says:

    As always, a wonderful and informative post. You know my feelings on the issue of vintage fur (I commented on your FB post).I love that you can donate vintage fur for a good cause. Great post! Thanks for doing all the research on this!

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  2. Kari Jaure says:

    Great post! I don’t have a strong stance on wearing fur, leather, etc., but it was great to see alternatives to selling or wearing vintage fur. The research you did was amazing and I am going to look into some of your alternatives. I also loved your take on the way individuals view things differently and no one is really right or wrong.

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  3. miss sophie says:

    thank you for such a brilliant, open-minded and resourceful post on this issue. i’m also a believer in purchasing only vintage fur for the real stuff, and i have a a few personal caveats about real vintage (ie: no persian lamb/karacul fur) as well. either way, it’s really important to remain aware about responsible consumption in our own lives. that doesn’t mean we have to become militant fanatics with regard to other people’s choices.

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  4. […] new.  If totally against wearing fur altogether, you can still maintain ethical responsibility and recycle vintage fur without actually wearing […]

  5. Annsanse says:

    I just happened upon this post. I see it’s almost two years old but I thought I’d contribute another idea for re-purposing vintage furs. Donate them to a local community theater or university theater company. Community theaters function on very small budgets and are always looking for costumes appropriate for different time periods. This goes for any vintage clothing, really. Also, if you are a person concerned about charitable donations being tax deductible, often community theaters are 501c3 organizations (public universities are, too) and your donations will possibly qualify (ask them).

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  6. […] feel compelled to dispose of, you have several options. On her blog, Samantha Davis details several ways to recycle furs, including programs that give used furs to homeless people in cold climates, turn furs into teddy […]

  7. Sam says:

    What a wonderful post! I just found this – though it’s almost 3 years old. I’ll only purchase vintage furs, nothing new, but I really had no idea that furs could be recycled in these ways. Thanks for the suggestions, should I ever choose to donate my own furs. I linked back to this post on my own blog.

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