I strongly believe that more people’s attitudes would change if they simply were aware of the extent in which animals suffer for the use of fashion and product. So, I decided to conduct my own research.
I created a questionnaire to find out current attitudes towards a number of different aspects of animal use. It was published online to receive a varied response from both men and women of different ages. This enabled the answers to be representative of the general public. I received 20 responses.
These are the results:
After, I also conducted a focus group of 2 women and 2 men, who had taken part in the questionnaire, to get more in depth responses. This was to find out whether their current attitudes would change when provided with information about the treatment of animals for fashion and product. I based the questions on the overall results of the questionnaire.
Results showed that the majority of people believe wearing leather is okay, but not fur. Because of this, I showed the participants the Leather in 60 Seconds Flat video which I have used in a previous blog post. Before doing so, I asked their current attitude towards leather. This was to see how aware they were on the issue and if seeing behind the scenes would have an affect. Although most of them did not own any leather, 3 of the 4 participants believed it was okay to wear it. They believed it is more socially and morally acceptable than fur; due to the belief that it is a by-product of meat. The 4th person said “I just think if you can get faux leather then what’s the need for an animal to suffer for it”.
Video 1: Leather Trade
After showing the rather graphic video, they were shocked at how inhumane the animals are treated. I made them aware of the leather industry being entirely separate to the meat industry. They also did not know that, like with fur, the animals are skinned alive. 2 of the 3 who had previously said they thought it was okay had changed their minds. The other participant said they wouldn’t be as keen on buying it, but that it probably wouldn’t stop them if they really liked the item of clothing.
The questionnaire results also showed that people disagree with the use of animals for cosmetic purpose, but agreed with it for medical research. The participants all agreed and were aware that it isn’t pretty, but saw the benefit of it. So, the second video shown was of monkeys being used for science.
Video 2: Medical Experiments on Monkeys
They found the video very upsetting and so I ended it early. I continued to then explain the many alternative methods that can replace animal use and that the overall use of animals has been a failure. With this information, all participants agreed that if there are alternatives this should not happen at all. One however did point out that financing the alternative methods could be very expensive.
I also asked them about their knowledge on brands who test on animals. Both female participants had no idea whether their make-up is or is not and admitted it’s something they had avoided knowing. I showed them all a full list of companies who still test on animals but explained that cosmetic testing is banned in Europe. The male participants found that this included their aftershave and hair products. When asked if they would consider changing what products they use – their response was yes!
The final aspect I wanted to make them aware of is the reality of silk. I asked them what their current attitudes were. All of them did not see a problem with silk and one even admitted they thought it was just a material! When told about how the silkworms are boiled alive to ensure there is no damage to the product, the question of sentience came up. It was questioned whether they can feel pain. They did inevitably think the process was inhumane and I again let them know it can be done without killing the silkworms.
So would this information change your mind? Let me know if you found this interesting! I feel confident that this research helped spread awareness to a few more people and found my original statement to be fairly accurate!