A white and grey mink with a pink nose looks through the bars of a wire cage.

4 reasons to dress kindly this winter.

The coldest time of year provides a great opportunity to show a little warmth to animals when they need it most.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated April 13, 2023

As the cooler weather sets in and we get ready to turn on our heaters, pile on the layers and dig out the extra blankets from the cupboard, our furred, feathered and woolly friends are facing some of their darkest days.

Animals like rabbits, geese, foxes and sheep are born with insulating coats that help them survive extreme temperatures – but to keep up with consumer demand, the fur, feather and wool industries steal these winter coats.

Some animals used for their coats endure horrific, painful deaths at the hands of these profit-driven industries. And while not all animals are killed for their coats, the ‘lives’ of many animals farmed for fur and feather ‘harvesting’ is arguably a fate worse than death.

Thankfully, animal-friendly alternatives exist for most (if not all) winter items! By checking labels, and choosing animal-free clothing and blankets this winter, you can keep yourself warm while showing our animal friends a little warmth at the same time.

Here are four reasons to choose kindly this winter:

1. Angora makes bunnies scream in pain

Rabbits cry out when in severe pain or distress – something they are known to do when their fur is being ‘harvested’. In other words, torn from their bodies by hand.

An investigation by PETA showed rabbits in Chinese angora farms being tied down on racks and screaming in fear and agony. Most of the world’s angora fur comes from fur farms in China, where there are no animal welfare laws in place.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A fluffy Angora rabbit sitting on soft straw.

2. ‘Down’ was keeping someone else warm first

Down is the layer of soft and tiny feathers closest to a bird’s body. Ducks, geese and other birds need these feathers to keep warm, but their delicate bodies are stripped of these feathers to keep up with the consumer demand for down quilts and coats.

Down is often ‘harvested’ through a process called ‘live-plucking’, which is as disturbing as it sounds: struggling geese and ducks as young as ten weeks old are held down, potentially resulting in their fragile wings or legs broken in the process, and then have their feathers ripped from their skin. Concerningly, as with angora fur, most down sold in products in Australia comes from China, where no animal protection laws exist.

Due to the lack of transparency and lax labelling, it safest to steer clear from down entirely in order to spare animals from this cruelty.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

Two white Pekin ducks on still water.

3. Wool hurts lambs and sheep

Did you know that every year in Australia, millions of lambs bred into the industry die from exposure to the elements? Those who survive are met soon after by other realities of being born into the Australian wool industry: in most states they can legally have their tails cut off along with the skin around their buttock (called ‘mulesing‘) and the males will be castrated – all without pain relief.

When they’re old enough, their wool will be sheared – which can not only cause distress, but also serious injury. The reality is that sheep are not granted the same protection we grant to dogs and cats, in fact, many of the painful procedures they are forced to endure would be illegal if done to a companion animal.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A sheep and lamb stand side by side in a grassy field, more sheep are out of focus in the background.

4. Fur isn’t ‘fashion’ – it’s cruelty

While mink, foxes and rabbits are the most frequently used for their fur, the fur industry takes many victims including possums, wallabies, seals, and even cats and dogs. Regardless of the species, all animals used for their fur suffer greatly.

China is the world’s largest fur exporter. Just as the cage egg industry confines hens in cages here, the vast majority of animals raised in fur farms in China will spend their unnaturally short lives in cruel ‘battery’ cages. As well as being deprived of anything that makes life worth living, animals in fur farms can suffer some of the worst deaths imaginable – killed by electrocution, beating, strangling or gassing, and can even have their skins stripped off while still alive. 

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A white Arctic fox turning their head to look back towards the camera.

Shop kindly, so animals aren’t left out in the cold this winter

When you next head to the shops or search online for winter warmers, become an informed shopper and explore synthetic and plant-based alternatives to wool, down and angora.

There are numerous existing and new materials appearing in winter products that are kinder to animals, such as bamboo, modal, microfibre, Tencel (made from eucalyptus), ingeo (made from corn fibres), Primaloft and Microcloud!

If you’d like to learn more about living kindly for animals and our shared planet, Join the Evolution today and receive your free guide!


This image contains content which some may find confronting

Two lambs standing in a green, hilly field
Let's consider who is behind the fibres some clothes are made from – the sheep, rabbits, ducks, geese, mink, foxes and more. Choosing to shop kindly this winter is as easy as reaching for animal-friendly alternatives instead!