As the temperature begins to dip, the skeletons in city dwellers closets creep onto the streets. Fur-lined hoods will be proudly paraded across the city, marking the ideal opportunity to spread a message of compassion to a wider community. It is vital that we approach fur-wearers in a non-confrontational manner that prioritizes education over embarrassment. Before approaching a fur-wearer, consider these practical tips to ensure your conversation with a stranger on the street goes smoothly.
1. Stay Calm.
It is easy to get upset when we see someone wearing real fur, mostly because it is so obviously a dead animal. But before we begin our conversation, it is essential that we let this anger and resentment dissipate. Give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they are completely unaware they are wearing real fur. This will help you to empathize which in turn encourages a more open dialogue. Shouting profanities can make us feel good, but does nothing to help people make the connection.
2. Build Rapport.
Many people can feel attacked when approached about their fur coats which in turn leaves them on the defensive. Try not to immediately launch into a conversation about the horrors of fur, if possible build some connection with them that is unrelated to the topic. Try to connect with them as another human being so you can see they are good people, and hopefully they can see the same in you. When it comes time to turn the conversation to fur, this rapport you built will make them more receptive to your message.
3. Ask Questions.
Based on the situation and what you know about this person, come up with open-ended questions that can help you better understand where their values lie. For example, I was in a park and a dog walker was wearing a Canada Goose jacket. After talking about our love of dogs, I asked him if he was aware that he was wearing real dog fur. This is a startling question for anyone, but by building rapport this was seen as a genuine question, not a personal attack. By asking questions, it turns these interactions into a discussion rather than a lecture. So ask questions, let them answer and often they will come to the conclusion this is cruel all on their own.
4. Educate and Encourage.
Most people are justly horrified to discover their coat comes from the animals they purport to care about. Rather than shaming people into submission, take these opportunities to educate people on the horrors of the fur industry. If you need more information about fur farms in Canada, watch Lush Cosmetics video on this topic. In regards to Canada Goose, watch Mic The Vegans video. Arm people with the knowledge to make better choices. Be sure to tell them about ethical alternatives like Vaute Couture, Hoodlamb or Wuxly that are just as warm as their current coat. These coats are so warm because of Primaloft, an ultra-lightweight insulator developed by the military to keep soldiers warm in the most extreme conditions. Tell them that Wuxly will give them a discount off their coats if they trade in a fur-lined parka. Not only should we be educating people, but we should also give them an incentive to make more ethical decisions going forward.
5. End on a Positive Note.
It is important to leave the conversation in a positive manner. Most people will be grateful you have brought this issue to their attention. Be sure to thank them for being so open-minded and to remind them that their purchases have profound impacts. This conversation can set them off on a path of more conscious consumption. Even if the conversation did not go as planned, wish them all the best and send them off with a smile.
Versace, Gucci, Michael Kors, Burberry, and Jean-Paul Gaultier have all made a commitment to be completely fur-free. Many have labeled the industry as barbaric and unnecessary when there are such incredible innovations in faux fur alternatives. As more and more designers take a stand against fur, they help show there is no longer any excuse to use animals for fashion. Designers have the opportunity to evolve and work with innovative materials rather than recycling style from our forefathers in their use of fur.
Some may be questioning, why not focus on leather or wool? It is true these industries are just as cruel to animals and receive far less public outcry. The focus on fur acts as a gateway to discuss more prevalent forms of oppression. Most people can agree that the use of animals for fashion and warmth is not only cruel but also unnecessary. By highlighting this one aspect of animal use, it helps to prime people to face other parts of their lives that are predicated on animal exploitation. An entire paradigm shift is not likely to happen during a short discussion on the street. Rather the goal is to plant seeds in a persons mind so they can think more critically about their consumption habits as a whole and how they are impacting the lives of other creatures. Turning someone vegan on the spot is an unrealistic goal that is likely to result in disappointment and frustration. Instead, see these conversations as an opportunity to spark curiosity with the hope that it is nurtured by those who receive it.