A Kind Gift: Tips For Compassionate Shopping

Photo Credit: Humanesocietyofcharlotte.org

(SHOP CRUELTY-FREE/HUMANE SHOPPING) Compassion is in fashion now more than ever and shoppers are demonstrating their ethics and concern for animal welfare with their pocketbooks.

Here are some great tips and surprising facts for gift-giving with heart and mindfulness.

Also, find a compassionate pet store near you and click here for our complete list of companies that don’t test on animals. — Global Animal

Photo Credit: Humanesocietyofcharlotte.org

Born Free USA

Compassion is in fashion now more than ever and ethical consumerism has become a priority for many shoppers. Born Free USA, a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, is encouraging consumers to be extra wise this holiday season and to make informed decisions when it comes to buying items considered “green” or “natural.”

According to Will Travers, CEO of Born Free, “Messages from fashion and other consumer goods manufacturers can be confusing and often misleading to consumers. There is nothing stylish about the inhumane treatment of animals or threats to our environment. Consumers should be wary of the words ‘green’ and ‘natural’ and be sure they know where their purchases are coming from. The holidays are an opportunity for people to think about how their buying habits can have a positive global impact. Every purchase can really make a substantial difference.”

Born Free USA offers these simple tips for compassionate holiday shopping that makes a world of difference:

Avoid ivory.

A woman organizes confiscated elephant tusks in Manila, Philippines. Photo Credit: Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

Michelle Obama recently wore a “mammoth ivory” necklace, which sends a fashion statement to the public that it is okay to covet ivory, despite the fact that tens of thousands of African and Asian elephants are slaughtered annually to fuel the ivory trade. Only elephants should wear ivory.

There is no such thing as “ethical” fur.

Minks who farmed for their fur face live in horrendous conditions and face insurmountable abuse. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty
Minks farmed for their fur live in horrendous conditions and face insurmountable abuse. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty

Some people are saying that fur is “green” because it is “natural.” There is nothing natural about wearing fur. More than 50 million animals are violently killed for fashion every year. For one single mink coat, 60 to 80 animals are killed; 20 animals for a fox coat; and 12 to 15 of a lynx coat. The fur industry is a threat to our environment, contributing to higher energy costs, pollution, land destruction, and reductions in populations of wild animals, including endangered and threatened species who may be accidentally trapped and killed.

A little fur trim is not fashionable.

Don’t let the pretty models distract you; around her neck is the carnage of a dead fox.

It is a myth that fur or fur trim is a byproduct of the meat industry. The fur trim market is an equal, if not greater, threat to animals than is the making of fur coats. Fur trim is not what is “left over” from making full-length fur coats. Thousands of animals are killed simply to provide trim for fashion, home décor, toys and other merchandise. Even purchasing the tiniest bit of trim supports cruelty. From cuffs, collars and the lining of gloves, to accessories for dolls, beware of fur trim.

Do not believe what you read.

raccoon, raccoon dogs, fur, fashion, mink, fur trade
Raccoon dogs’ fur is often harvested to pass off as mink. Recently, raccoon dog fur has also been found in products labeled as “faux fur.” Photo Credit: scienceblogs.com

Labels are not always accurate in identifying the type of fur used. Do not buy items that cannot be 100 percent verified as fur-free. Cat and dog fur can enter the U.S. undetected and be sold as fur trim. While there is a ban on the import of domestic dog and cat fur in the U.S., their fur may be mislabeled or the item may be valued less than $150, and thus not be required to carry a label identifying the source of the fur. This can be quite deceiving to consumers. The safest choice is to stay away from fur trim.

Live animals are not gifts.

There are many factors one should consider before choosing to adopt a dog. Photo Credit: mcocy.montcopa.org
There are many factors one should consider before bringing a new pet into their home. Photo Credit: mcocy.montcopa.org

There are many “novelty” gift items that involve live animals being sold as educational and green products. Such items include various “grow your own frog” kits and Brookstone’s “Frog-O-Sphere Ecosystem” that includes two live African dwarf frogs. Two frogs floating aimlessly in a tiny tank with some gravel and a stalk of bamboo is cruelty. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control, African dwarf frogs have been implicated as the source of dangerous transmissions of salmonella infections to children in the past.

Steer clear of feathers.

Pop star Ke$ha has been seen wearing feather hair extensions in the past. Photo credit: http://surfme.files.wordpress.com

Feathers on clothing and fashion accessories from headbands to earrings, are very popular this year and consumers should ask themselves where the feathers came from — how were they collected, how were the birds who produced them treated, and whether the feathers come from a threatened or endangered species. Only birds should wear feathers.

Shop for a cause.

These stump-tailed macaques named Maddie, left, and Leo are among those living at Born Free USA’s primate sanctuary. Photo Credit: Michelle Reininger/Born Free USA

Many companies offer products from which a percentage of sales are donated to a charitable organization. There are also compassionate gift ideas that directly support animals, like Born Free USA’s “Adopt-a-Primate” program. For $52 ($1 a week), the gift helps provide food, care, and rehabilitation to residents at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in Dilley, Texas. You can choose to adopt any of three macaques, each of whom has his or her own Welcome Kit complete with biography, color photo, certificate of adoption, and the newsletter The Primate Post.  If you order by December 15, you will receive an additional gift from Born Free USA as part of your adoption package, guaranteed for delivery by December 25. The sanctuary is home to over 500 primates, many of whom were rescued from abusive situations in laboratories, roadside zoos, and private possession.

Pets can be fashionable, too. When buying gifts and accessories for animal companions, be sure to only purchase items from compassionate pet supply stores — stores where they do not sell live animals of any kind. Born Free USA’s Pet Supply Locator database makes it easy.

More Born Free USA: http://blog.fidofriendly.com/compassionate-holiday-shopping-tips-that-make-a-difference/

A great related resource: List Of Cruelty-Free Companies That Don’t Test On Animals