Can an Ethical Fur Industry Ever Exist, Even with this Fur Source?


Not only is wearing fur the cruelest fashion choice on the planet, it’s not a very environmentally friendly one either. Can an ethical and environmentally responsible fur industry exist?

Pamela Paquin, founder of Petite Mort (that’s French for “the little death”) thinks so. Before you click out of this article or jump to leave a harsh comment, check out the fine print: Paquin is sourcing her fur exclusively from roadkill.

“It’s so much a part of everyday life to see these animals,” Paquin told Modern Farmer. “Who of us doesn’t look away? You don’t want to see it because when you fully soak in the meaning of what happened, it’s emotionally draining.”

About one million animals are killed on our nation’s roads every single day in the U.S. Pretty staggering, right? “The scale of it is so overwhelming — you can’t possibly wrap your head around the suffering that went into those numbers,” Paquin said.

And while that number is tragic in its own right, so is this one: the 50 million animals killed each year by the fur industry. The Canadian seal slaughter is one of the most talked about and brutal effects of the fur industry. Many other animals live in cramped and crowded fur farms and are painfully electrocuted to death so as to preserve the animals’ pelts. Paquin’s approach is quite different. She locates the roadkill, skins the dead animal herself, and returns the body to nature, calling on her Native American heritage for a prayer of gratitude for the animal’s life.

While Paquin calls this “shameless fur”, there’s still a considerable amount of guilt to be had over the impact cars have on the natural world and the animal victims. And even though Paquin is not producing millions of furs a year, tanning fur, like leather (another animal product) is a toxic process that releases chemicals that can pollute air and water. And let’s not overlook the stigma of wearing fur. It’s such a source of controversy, for good reason, and strangers won’t know at a glance that your raccoon trim was scraped off the side of the road.

People are eating “fresh” roadkill meat nowadays too, but just like the roadkill fur, we have to ask ourselves where we draw the line with our ethics. Is it just about avoiding the practice of raising animals solely for these purposes or is it about honoring the life of a fellow earthling? Paquin is still selling fur as high-priced status items, afforded only by those who wear fur as a luxury item. In some regards, this makes scraping a murdered fox off the road even more heartbreaking. What about just laying that animal–fur and all–to rest? And instead of looking for ways to exploit his carcass, we look at ways to avoid the senseless death of millions of animals every year, whether by force or accident.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Related on EcoSalon

Fur Real: Morrissey Calls Canadian Baby Seal Hunt ‘Fashionably Dead’

Vegan Fashion 101: Fur Is So Not Vegan (Take Note, Beyoncé)

Animal Cruelty Goes Out of Style: West Hollywood Bans the Sale of Fur

Image: Brian Moriarty

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.