Cashmere is the latest raw material to incur the wrath of PETA, with retailers being urged to drop the luxury fibre following a new investigation by the animal rights group.
Video footage from PETA Asia shows workers abusing frightened goats on cashmere farms and in abattoirs in China and Mongolia – the two countries responsible for 90% of the world’s cashmere production.
Among the footage, the animals are seen crying out in pain as their legs are bent and their hair is torn out with sharp metal combs. Others deemed no longer profitable were slaughtered after being hit with hammers and hacked to death.
H&M – the second-largest clothing retailer in the world – has already agreed to ban “conventional” cashmere (the only kind that it sells). And online retailer Asos has removed all remaining cashmere stock from its website as a result of the investigation, PETA says.
“PETA urges all retailers to follow H&M and Asos in dropping cashmere and asks consumers to leave cruelly produced items on the rack,” says PETA director Elisa Allen.
The mass production of cashmere is also fuelling ecological destruction, the activist group claims, saying it has the largest environmental impact of any animal-derived fibre. Goats have voracious appetites, and because they consume the roots of plants (which prevents regrowth), fragile grasslands are turning into deserts, which contributes to dangerous pollution dense enough to reach North America.
Across the fashion industry companies have been phasing out the use of mohair following video footage last year by PETA, detailing the abuse of angora goats at farms in South Africa – the source of more than 50% of the world’s mohair. It has also led calls to boycott British wool over sheep cruelty claims.
The latest tactic from the group is to snap up shares in listed companies – including jeans giant Levi Strauss & Co – so that its members can to attend and speak at annual meetings to draw attention to company sourcing decisions.