H&M is taking a stand against the unethical animal practices and in favour of ethical vegan clothing. The clothes retailer has announced that it will stop placing orders for “conventional cashmere” by the end of 2020. This follows the PETA expose of the manner in which cashmere is produced in China and Mongolia which together export about 90 percent of the world’s cashmere production.
PETA film footage
PETA Asia filmed in cashmere farms and in abattoirs and shows footage of terrified goats screaming in pain and of workers there stepping on the goats and twisting their limbs and bending their legs in unnatural positions while they used sharp metal combs to tear the goats’ hair off.
The shearing on the video appears very stressful to the goats, and according to the PETA announcement the goats are left very vulnerable to cold temperatures and illness.
In some cases the goats’ throats are slit in the slaughterhouse in full view of the other goats at the abattoirs and they are left to bleed to death in agony, in some cases still moving two minutes later. The flesh is later sold as cheap meat.
So the reality is that if any western consumers buy a cashmere jumper or jacket it has almost certainly come from the hair of about six goats who have been abused in this way in China or Mongolia.
The environmental impact of producing fibre is quite destructive as the industry contributes significantly to soil degradation followed by desertification. This is because cashmere goats have to consume 10 per cent of their body weight in food every day – they eat the roots of grasses which prevents regrowth from taking place.
Mongolia is already suffering: 65 per cent of Mongolia’s grasslands are already degraded with 90 per cent of the country in danger of desertification. The resultant dust storms and accompanying air pollution are sufficiently dense to reach North America according to PETA.
Since there appear to be no penalties for the abuse inflicted on the goats in China and Mongolia, there only way for concerned individuals to help these goats is simply to refuse to buy products made from cashmere. There is no shortage of warm, stylish animal-free materials so a switch to cashmere free alternatives is entirely feasible.
H&M’s commitment as set out on its website is “ to work for a more transparent supply chain, where cashmere is sourced from sustainable sources that are independently certified by standards that cover both animal welfare and environmental aspects. If the cashmere industry in the future would meet our sustainability criteria, we could consider turning to virgin cashmere again. Besides our work to improve the industry, we will also continue to look at alternatives with an equally great feel and value to customers as cashmere, but with less environmental impacts”.
It seems inevitable that to maintain good PR that clothing brands will increasingly look to vegan brands of soft knitwear in the future if they wish to maintain market share. Vegan fashion brands providing ethical plant based clothing are the future.
In 2018 ASOS became the first international fashion brand to announce a ban on the sale of cashmere. In addition to its own-brand ASOS sells in excess of 850 labels.