The True Cost of Your Canada Goose
Now a running joke on the school meme page, the badge on the arm of a Canada Goose jacket has become a symbol of status and wealth among college teens. This iconic outerwear undoubtedly plays role in propelling inequality within the student body. However, while it is no secret that these coats cost as much as $1500 each, many endorsers of the brand are unaware of the true social, environmental and ethical costs associated with Canada Goose products.
One of the few outdoor clothing companies that use real coyote fur as trim on its hoods and down in their parkas, Canada Goose claims that the use is “strictly for functional purposes,” boasting that their coats can be worn in places “where exposed skin can freeze in an instant.” While this may be true, the vast majority of consumers certainly don’t live in Arctic-like conditions but in large urban cities with lots of indoor heating. Furthermore, it’s simply hard to imagine that a narrow strip of coyote fur can add that much warmth, especially as many competing brands such as Columbia, Patagonia and Fjällräven, who choose to use synthetic materials and faux fur, can keep people warm without.
Its company website also proudly states that it is “committed to providing full transparency” about how it makes its products, “including the ethical sourcing and responsible use of animal products.” It even goes so far as to say that “the fur industry is an excellent example of an industry based on sustainable use." However, a closer look at its fur farming and coyote-trapping practices confirm that there is absolutely nothing ethical nor ‘green’ about them.
First–the coyotes. Not only are they trapped using cruel methods, but are often left frightened, starving and in pain for days before the trapper kills and skins them. To make it worse, the traps are not selective, meaning that cats, dogs and even endangered species get caught. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, non-target animals account for up to 67 percent of total catch. Thus, even though the company argues that coyotes are considered a pest in many regions of North America, this glaring fact challenges the notion that only target animals are caught.
Second – the ducks and geese. Living out their lives in confined, dirty fur farms is bad enough, but to top it all off, their throats are cut and bodies dumped into scalding hot water. Plus, fur farming, like any kind of factory farming, is a highly environmentally destructive process. In fact, studies show that due to animal feed and emissions of manure, it takes four times more energy to produce a real fur coat than a synthetic one.
Additionally, while Canada Goose claims to use modern trapping methods that significantly reduce mistreatment and harm of animals, they are in fact environmentally damaging. In addition to routinely using snowmobiles to patrol traplines and transport dead animals, in an attempt to prevent the rotting of animal skin, they are often treated with many carcinogenic chemicals such as formaldehyde and chromium.
This all said, ultimately everyone has the right to decide what goes in their closets, and that includes Canada Goose parkas. After all, Chicago Tribune rated Canada Goose as the warmest of warm coats in 2009. Regardless, I hope that after reading this article, you are able to make more informed decisions in future purchases. Finally, just like the saying goes, let’s all hope that April showers bring May flowers and that we can put our winter coats – Canada Gooses or not – away for good.