What to do with fur coats: 6 ethical solutions

Girl in fur coat going up stairs

What to do with fur coats: 6 ethical solutions

There was a time when fur coats were a staple of the luxury fashion sector and an important status symbol. However, as the industry has started to make steps towards becoming a kinder sector, attitudes towards fur have, rightly, changed. So what to do with those fur coats that you may have in the back of your wardrobe or that you inherited and don’t want to keep?

Why throwing away a fur coat isn't the answer

1. It already exists

Fur coats are a controversial issue in the fashion sector and the majority of modern consumers don’t want any part of the fur trade. However, the truth is that if you have an old fur coat, it already exists. Simply throwing it away, as with anything else in fashion, is not a sustainable option.

2. The animal has already suffered

The animal has already died to create the coat. Sending it to landfill only wastes the pelt it was killed for and unnecessarily contributes to landfill.

3. Making fur coats is a chemically laden process

Making throwing away old furs even worse is the fact that, as they are essentially animal skins, many coats were laden with chemicals during the production process. This can include chemicals such as formaldehyde, lead acetate, and sulfuric acid.

The addition of these chemicals only make the entire garment production process even more harmful. If these garments are then thrown away, all the damage created in the making of these fur coats, was essentially, for nothing.

4. Faux fur has its own environmental problems

While real fur may be out of fashion, the fur look definitely isn’t. Throwing away a real fur coat only to replace it with faux fur coats is also a potential sustainable misstep. Many faux fur styles are made from virgin synthetics. The use of these fabrics contributes to everything from microplastic pollution to chemical contamination.

To learn about faux fur, check out our article Is faux fur toxic? The truth about faux fur and how to buy better.

Girl in fur coat and hat
Photo by Martin Reisch on Unsplash

What to do with fur coats

So, throwing away that fur coat isn’t an option, however, the good news is that there are sustainable avenues for what to do with unwanted fur coats.

1. Donate to PeTA

Organisation HQ: USA (UK offices)

How to be involved: Send fur coats through Royal Mail or other courier services

Cause: Ethical treatment of animals

PeTA may seem like an odd organisation to want your old fur coat, but it does put these coats to good use. Standing for the welfare of animals around the globe, PeTA uses this unwanted fur for educational purposes, using it in anti-fur displays. PeTA also puts it to good use by repurposing old fur coats into cosy bedding for animals in need.

So, if you want to turn one of fashion’s greatest animal rights transgressions into something that helps animals, then PeTA may be the right place to donate. If you are wondering what to do with an inherited fur coat and opt to donate to PeTA you can simply post it to the organisation.

Fur coats for sale hanging on a rail
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

2. Sell on eBay

How to be involved: Create a listing through the eBay platform

If you want to earn some extra cash, then selling through a preloved platform such as eBay is a good option. While animal fur may not be an ethical material, if fur shrugs and coats already exist, throwing them away doesn’t make them any more ethical.

Giving an old coat a new life with a new owner is part of a much more sustainable mindset.

If you want to give something back to support animals in need, there is also always the option to donate proceeds from selling a fur coat to an animal charity.

3. Upcycle your coat

Just because you don’t want to wear the real fur coat in the back of your closet, doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to get rid of it. It may have sentimental value to you, be a family heirloom, or you may just really like it, that’s okay!

Upcycling your fur pieces can give them a new lease of life and still stops quality materials going to landfill.

Depending on its size you could recycle a fur coat into a funky cushion or throw. Alternatively, adjust the length, take off the sleeves or add some embellishments. Get creative and turn it into a great new style that you will love to wear.

If you are looking for more inspiration, there are some great tutorials online.

Girl in upcycled fur coat
Photo by Jason Yoder on Unsplash

4. Donate to an animal shelter

How to be involved: Contact your local animal shelter

Cause: Animal welfare

Many animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres accept donations of second hand coats. This makes another way to turn an old fur coat into a tool for helping animals. These fur jackets are used to line crates and create snuggly beds to keep our furry friends warm and snug.

If you are wondering what to do with a fur coat and decide on giving it to a shelter, be sure to contact your local shelter first to check if there are any additional requirements they have for donations.

5. Donate to Care4Calais

Organisation HQ: UK/France

How to be involved: Drop your coat off at a collection point

Cause: Aiding refugees

Care4Calais assists some of the most vulnerable people to find safety, security and comfort. The organisation supports refugees through a variety of avenues. One such way is by providing warm clothing for those fleeing from persecution and conflict.

By donating a coat to Care4Calais you are helping to provide warmth and comfort to someone seeking a safer life.

The organisation has donation points around the UK where coats can be dropped off. Coats must, of course, be clean and in good condition to be included in the Care4Calais initiative. The organisation publishes lists of items it needs which is also worth checking before heading to a donation point.

Homeless person with dog
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

6. Sell to the Vintage HQ

Organisation HQ: UK

How to be involved: Contact the organisation for a valuation

UK family-run business, the Vintage HQ, specialises in high quality vintage furs and fashion pieces. It is particularly interested in vintage fur coats or designer styles from the 1920s onward.

They are also open to buying high quality vintage fur capes, coats, stoles and shrugs, even if they don’t come with a designer label.

Through creating a preloved platform for quality items, the organisation supports a less wasteful and more sustainable fashion sector. Simply contact the Vintage HQ if you are interested in adding your fur items to their collection.

Fashionable furs

There is no denying the fact that fur was once a prominent part of the fashion industry and luxury goods market. In recent years, consumer demands have shifted to a more animal welfare conscious mindset. However, this doesn’t mean that throwing away the fur styles of yesterday is the most sustainable option. 

What to do with fur coats? From donating them to help those fleeing persecution, to turning a fur coat into an educational tool against the fur trade, there are ethical and sustainable answers for this tricky conundrum.

Photo by Molnár Bálint on Unsplash


Are old fur coats worth anything?

Yes! Old fur clothing can still fetch a good price in the preloved market. Selling through platforms such as eBay, or with an organisation like Vintage HQ is a great way to earn some extra cash and give an old fur coat some more use.

What can I make with an old fur coat?

What you can make with an old fur vest, jacket or coat is limited only by your imagination. Homewares or other clothing items are popular upcycling projects. Depending on how savvy you are with a sewing machine, you could even turn an old fur jacket into a stylish children’s coat for a special little person in your life.

A quick Google search is the best way to find inspiration for your fur upcycling project.

What is the best way to sell a fur coat?

Many people opt to sell fur coats through resale platforms like eBay. However, if you think your coat may be a high end vintage designer coat, it may be worth getting it valued by a professional or using an organisation like Vintage HQ.

What charities accept fur coats?

Many charities accept fur coats, as do a number of animal shelters. If you are unsure about a specific charity’s policies on accepting fur products then the best course of action is to quite simply ask them.


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