The calendar has but a few days left for crossing off before we usher in the new year. For many, this is a time to reflect on past twelve months and make goals for 2013. Before you look too far ahead, you may want to spend a little time thinking about your finances– specifically, your taxes.
Many of us make charitable donations throughout the year. We do it because we want to help, because it makes us feel good, and–let’s be honest–because of the tax benefits. In the final days of 2012, it’s not too late to make a few more donations to earn some additional credit on your taxes for the year. Consider showing your love by supporting an animal-friendly charity!
In honour of Earth Day and the celebration of all life on the planet, I’m going to share a personal story with you.
On a late afternoon last May, my partner and I were walking home from a friend’s house when we saw what we thought was perhaps a piece of gum or other small bit of trash lying on the sidewalk. As we got closer, we realised it was a tiny baby bird, completely featherless, with its eyes still sealed shut.
Soy Milk By mc559 on flickr
Most of us grew up with the standard old food pyramid that lauded several servings of dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt, etc.) in order to maintain a “healthy” diet. It was implied that skipping this particular food group would lead to all kinds of calcium deficiencies, malnutrition, osteoporosis, hairy palms, and brain death. Ok, perhaps not so much with the last two, but there were serious warnings about what awful things would happen to people who didn’t drink their milk (“it does a body good!”). Those of us who were (are) lactose intolerant were pitied, and had to make do with powdered soy milk substitutes that were really quite revolting… but we’ve come a long, long way since those days and there are many fantastic dairy-milk alternatives on the market today. Countless different brands of soy milk are now available, along with almond or hazelnut milk, rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk, and one I just recently heard about: flax milk!
Silkworm cocoons by Micah Sittig on Flickr
Coveted by people of all social strata for millenia, this is a material that speaks of opulence and luxury. It’s used for bridal gowns, formal-wear, lingerie and bedsheets, and numerous other products around the globe… and it’s stunning how few people are aware of the cruelties associated with the creation of this material
Many people ask why silk is considered unethical when it’s not an actual part of the insect’s body that’s being used: silk is actually hardened silkworm saliva that is formed through a spinneret on the worm’s mouth, and spun into hair-thin cords that can reach up to a mile in length. Imagine how much time and effort goes into that!
Plucked goose (image courtesy of veganpeace.com)
In my email inbox a few days ago, I received a rather atrocious bit of spam that was promoting goose-down jackets. The email went on and on about the “high class” of down products and how special and wonderful they are, proclaiming that it’s the best insulator in the world. Well, considering that birds need it to stay warm in wintertime, isn’t it far more ethical to leave it on the birds than to harvest it for our own use?
Down-filled jackets seem to be cherished by those who proudly show them off because they’re prized commodities for the elite. Fashionistas and minor celebrities prance around in them because they’re the flavour of the month, and those who idolize such public figures often scramble to emulate them, not taking any time to consider where their clothing has been sourced from: whether the down is being used for jackets, sleeping bags, duvets or pillows, the feathers within them aren’t exactly shed in a natural way by birds who want to take a little off once and a while. These feathers are often plucked from living animals, not just the ones that have been slaughtered for food, which is an incredibly painful process that traumatizes the birds, and since they can re-grow their feathers within a few weeks, they’ll be subjected to it over and over again until they’re finally slaughtered. Companies that claim that they use “ethical” feather-harvesting methods generally source their feathers from the white ducks and geese that have been raised and killed for food—most often for the fois gras or other pate industry—which means they’ve been force-fed by tubes and kept in pens all their lives before being killed via electrocution and decapitation. Yeah, that just screams “ethical” to me.
Sheep by Heather Rose on Flickr
In some of our earlier posts, particularly those centered around warmer layers for colder weather, we’ve touched upon the fact that wool should be avoided because it is unethical. Many people are confused as to why wearing wool would be an unethical choice: after all, it’s just taking the wool off a sheep, right? That’s not killing it… how bad could it be?