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Are Sheepskins Ethical?

sheepskin laid on log

Are sheep slaughtered to make sheepskins and are sheepskins OK for the environment?

A sheepskin is a sheep’s skin and has come from an animal that has been slaughtered.

Our sheepskins are from animals that have been slaughtered for meat. We realise this does nothing to help the sheep in question. Less than 1 in 200 sheepskins are tanned. Tanning is a craft and we urge you to consider your textiles.

Every second of every day a lorry load of plastic clothes is burned, or added to landfill. Every year, millions of sheepskins do the same. The Friends of the Earth commissioned a study which found microfibers even in our own selves.

Our sheepskins will last for many years, even if given the most basic level of care. At the end of its long and useful life a sheepskin has the good grace to rot into the earth. It returns.

Most sheepskins are never tanned. Of the sheep that we eat in the UK, we tan less than one in two hundred. Most sheepskins are regarded as a waste product of the meat industry and are disposed of as hazardous animal waste.

“In 2005 [we ate] 14.1million lambs (+ 2.2million ewes and rams) Only 60,000 UK skins p.a. are processed by the remaining UK tanning sector, less than 0.45% of the total”2015 Sheep Industry Report

Go back less than two decades and wool was the primary reason for sheep farming. In 2001 the ratio changed in favour of meat – a trend that continues.

The art of creating soft, lasting hides has been passed down through generations. It’s a craft skill in an industry that slumped from anti-fur sentiment. People concerned about animal wealthfare have legitimate concerns.

We cannot address the needs of people who cannot live with such an overt animal product in their life. If that’s you, we hope there’s no hard feelings. We hope our own small attempt to offset the insanity of the man made microfiber problem.

Friends of the Earth

Washing machines and wastewater treatment plants aren’t designed to trap the minute plastic fibres that our clothes shed during washing. Many of these fibres sneak into our waterways and ultimately the oceans. And lots are caught up in sludge at the treatment plants – which is then sprayed over our soils as fertiliser.

Friends of the Earth

Our textile industries have responded to the public demand to ditch fur. A demand to end fur farms and needless slaughter. The trouble is we still wanted ‘fur’. People cleverer than this writer have created faux fur, which approximates that of animal origin but is made instead from plastic, derived from oil. Some of it is pretty good and feels authentic. Most doesn’t come close. All of it is damaging to life on earth.

We urge you to look again at this otherwise waste product, a result of the meat industry, a quality product that will last for years and years.

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