Is Faux Fur Sustainable, Eco Friendly, & Cruelty Free?

We’ve already put together guides about some of the most eco friendly fibres and fabrics, and the least eco friendly fibres and fabrics.

In the guide below though, we outline how sustainable, eco friendly & animal friendly faux fur might be according to various indicators.

This guide compliments our separate guide about real fur, which you can read here.


Summary – Is Faux Fur More Ethical, Sustainable, Eco Friendly, & Animal Friendly?

Sustainability & Eco Friendliness

– Potential Positives

Several sources indicate that faux fur may rate as more sustainable and eco friendly overall compared to real fur

Faux fur may have a lower carbon footprint and energy footprint than real fur according to a range of sources, along with rating better than real fur across other individual eco and sustainability indicators

Some sources indicate that faux fur can be repurposed or donated for other uses at the end of it’s lifespan, or turned into energy 

Newer bio based faux fur technology is being developed, which allows faux furs to be made from natural/organic feedstock, such as from plants, instead of non renewable feedstock like petrochemicals. There’s other options, like faux fur made partially from pre and post consumer offcuts, recycled plastic, and fibres like TENCEL. We include other examples of potentially more sustainable faux furs below in this guide

Some ‘more sustainable’ real furs have been produced, and these furs may have a better sustainability footprint that some faux furs

It might be arguable that, in the same way that leather can be a supposed by-product of the meat and dairy industries, faux fur might be a by-product of the vehicle fuel and plastic industries, that will extract fossil fuels anyway. Faux fur just benefits from this


– Potential Drawbacks

Some sources indicate that faux fur rates worse across several eco indicators compared to real fur, and the conclusion in a report on each can depend on whether it’s a pro or anti fur group publishing the report (this is something also points out)

Faux fur is usually made of synthetic plastic fibres (like acrylic, polyester, and nylon), that are made from non renewable petrochemicals like petroleum

Some sources point out that faux fur is essentially a polyester, acrylic, or a nylon, and each of these fibres/materials by themselves (when not used in faux fur) are often seen as having negative environmental and sustainability impacts. We’ve previously written about plastics, and polyester (a type of plastic fibre). In the guide below, there a source that points out that acrylic might have a worser environmental impact that the 8 other fibres it was compared to. To say faux fur doesn’t have a similar impact just because it doesn’t use animals for production might be somewhat of a hypocrisy

The production process of synthetic materials involves extraction of petrochemicals, refining by-products, and then creating monomers and polymers to make synthetic fibres from. There’s These processes not only have an environmental footprint, but the production of polymers and manufacturing of faux fur can involve the use of chemicals. 

One source indicates that faux fur coats use more non renewable energy than real fur.  

One source indicates that the use of fossil fuels in faux fur has a significant carbon footprint, and another source indicates that faux fur coats have greater risk of potential impacts of global warming than real fur 

Data on the water footprint of faux fur might be unclear at this point in time

Real fur biodegrades and can in some instances be composted – this process may only take a year or a few years. Faux faux is not biodegradable, and synthetic faux fur fibres may take thousands of years to fully break down, or may never fully break down. Break down can release micro plastic fibres 

Some sources indicate that real fur garments may be able to be restored (and effectively recycled or re-used), whereas cheap faux fur may not be able to be

High quality real fur might last longer than cheaper and lower quality faux furs, as long as the real fur is maintained and cared for properly. This means that a faux fur may rate well in some sustainability and eco friendly indicators initially in production, but, if it doesn’t last as long, it’s sustainability rating may drop compared to a fur product that can average out it’s footprint over a greater number of years

Although new technology is being developed in the form of bio based faux furs and other types of more sustainable faux furs, they are still not perfect. They may still be challenging to make in some aspects, have a lead time to get to market, and like faux leathers, they may use plastic based polymers in some instances for binding and added durability. The same might be said of recycled faux fur products (made of recycled plastics)

Some sources point out that the real choice is not between real fur and faux fur in terms of sustainability and eco friendliness, but the choice not to engage in fast fashion and overconsumption


Animal Welfare

Animals are not used to produce faux fur like they are with real fur. And, this means animals aren’t farmed or trapped either 

However, animals may indirectly be impacted by faux fur in the form of pollution, and the break down of micro plastics that may impact wildlife (in aquatic and marine environments for example), just as a few examples

Some groups may point out that ‘more ethical’ real furs like real furs made from roadkill, or made from controlled pest, overpopulated, or problem animal species, may be a better option from an animal welfare perspective than faux furs 


Human Health

Synthetic chemicals used to produce and manufacture faux fur may be a health risk to workers in countries where there are lax regulations in place to protect production facility workers

Micro plastic pollution has the ability to get into the water supply, food supply, and other areas of society, which humans end up consuming. There doesn’t appear to be conclusive evidence at this stage though that micro plastics severely impact human health – it’s worth consideration though


Economic Considerations

The faux fur industry is much smaller than the real fur industry right now. This means that economic value contributed, employment and income from faux fur is not as large either. Additionally, demand for faux fur isn’t as high – faux fur appears more of a niche fibre/material at this stage on a global level

Some sources indicate that the lower demand for faux fur could be due to a range of factors, with needing more time for development, consumer awareness, or even consumers having such a strong preference for some real fur products that they place this preference over any value related to the use of animals in fur production

Faux fur can be cheaper and more affordable than real fur because of low production costs, but, some sources indicate that faux fur processing takes longer than real fur processing


Practical Considerations

Faux fur can be manufactured for different traits and features in the final product that real fur might not be able to

Some faux fur producers/manufacturers may purposely include a % of real fur/natural fur fibres in their product to achieve a certain natural feel in their product. So, consumers should always check the label of the faux fur product to se what % of fibres are synthetic, and what % are real or natural fur

There has been instances of mislabelling of faux fur products being traded between countries, where the exporting country may have poorly enforced regulations around labelling. In this instance, real fur has been found on faux fur labelled products. This is why supply chain transparency, and also quality assurance/checking in importing countries is important.

There can be alternative and substitute materials/fibres for faux fur, but these alternatives and substitutes may have tradeoffs in the pros and cons

Being a synthetic faux material, faux fur may possess some similarities to faux leather. You can read more about faux leather in this guide


Real Fur vs Faux Fur Comparison

In this guide, we provide a comparison of real fur and faux fur.


What About The Eco Friendliness & Sustainability Of Other Materials?

We’ve put together guides about some of the most eco friendly fibres and fabrics, and the least eco friendly fibres and fabrics.

These guides may provide further insight on how faux fur compares to these fibres which can be used in materials.


Other Factors That Might Impact The Sustainability Or Eco Friendliness Of Materials

This guide outlines some more of the factors that contribute to how sustainable and eco friendly different fibres and fabrics might be.


*This Guide Is A Generalisation Only

It’s important to note that faux fur production variables and processes can differ between between producers and suppliers (especially between countries), and the usage and disposal of faux fur products can vary (as well as the products themselves).

These factors and other factors can impact the final sustainability and eco friendliness footprint of different faux furs.

As just one example, the development in technology related to making bio based faux furs could change the pros and cons of faux fur.


What Is Faux Fur?

Faux fur is a man made/synthetic, look-alike material of real fur.

In addition to the look, it may also try to emulate the feel of real fur in some ways.

In this way, faux fur serves a similar purpose that faux leather does in relation to real leather.


Is Faux Fur The Same As Vegan Fur?

Yes, they are essentially the same thing.

Unlike real fur, faux fur is not produced from animals, and does not contain animal derived products.

This is where it gets the name vegan fur.


Other Names For Faux Fur

Other names might include but aren’t limited to artificial fur, fake fur, and synthetic fur.


What Is Faux Fur Made Of?

Faux fur is generally made of synthetic fibres, like acrylic, nylon and polyester.

These types of fibres are polymers, which are forms of plastic.

They are made of compounds derived from petrochemicals like petroleum.

Newer faux fur products may also be made of bio based material like plants, or also recycled plastic, but these are currently not produced at the scale synthetic faux fur products are.


Faux Fur Made Of Synthetic Polymers, & Coming From Petroleum

Today’s faux fabric is made up of synthetic fibres; many, including acrylic and polyester, are forms of plastic [and] Polluting petroleum-based products also tend to be included in the composition (


Fake fur is made from various materials including blends of acrylic and modacrylic polymers derived from coal, air, water, petroleum and limestone (


Faux materials can be made of acrylic, a synthetic material made from a non-renewable resource … (


… most synthetic textiles (including fake or “faux” fur) are made with petroleum, a non-renewable resource (


… [Faux fur is] manufactured from non-renewable petroleum-based products [and is] mostly made from nylon and polyester … (


Faux fur is typically made from polymeric fibers … (


How Much Petroleum Might Be Used To Make Synthetic Fibres

Up to one gallon of petroleum is needed to produce three synthetic jackets (


How Is Faux Fur Made?

Below is a general description only.

But, overall, there’s the synthetic fibre production stage, and then there’s the manufacturing of the faux fur product itself.

Manufacturing can involve steps like weaving, knitting, and treating/finishing, to achieve the desired look and feel.

What’s worth noting is that some faux furs purposely include natural furs in the knit/weave, to get a more natural feel.

So, make sure to check the label to check what % of fibres are synthetic, and what % are natural. 


Synthetic Fibre Production

Firstly, synthetic fibres have to be produced.

We explain this process in this guide, but essentially, it involves, extraction, refining, and then the creation of monomers and polymers, which can then be used to create synthetic fibres.


Weaving & Knitting, & Treating/Finishing

Manufacturers make artificial furs by weaving and knitting synthetic fibers into pile fabrics.

[Sometimes natural fur fibres are also woven into these piles to better imitate the feel of real fur]

Pile consist of soft, clipped fiber ends

Manufacturers treat the pile to make it look like real fur



Past Issues With Mislabelling Of Faux Fur Products

Some countries have experienced issues with mislabelling of faux fur products.

Specifically, faux fur has been labelled as 100% faux fur, but has contained a % of real fur.

This can happen when countries known to have lax, or poorly enforced regulations related to labelling of faux fur products ship to another country (one example in the past has been fur coming out of China to the United States)

Developed countries generally have regulations in place to prevent this, but, there are still some countries in the world that may experience issues with mislabelling of faux fur products.


… [mis]labelling [of faux fur products] has supposedly been fixed in the US (


Carbon Footprint Of Faux Fur

Several sources indicate that faux fur has a lower carbon footprint than real fur in finished products like faux fur/real fur coats.

But, a couple of other sources indicate that faux fur’s use of fossil fuel derived compounds in production might lead to it having greater risk of potential impacts of global warming than many other sources explain.


Faux Fur As A Synthetic Material

[One of the main problems] with synthetic polymers are [that] the use of fossil energy [involves a] huge translocation of carbon from the ground into the atmosphere accompanied by [other] emissions … (


Faux Fur vs Real Fur

Some sources indicate that mink fur coats can have a higher carbon footprint compared to faux fur coats (up to 7 times higher), and also a higher carbon footprint than alternative materials like wool (up to 5 times higher). Animal feed and manure can impact carbon footprint


[Some studies/reports say that] faux fur coats … have greater risk of potential impacts of global warming …

[Whether or not a report or study is provided by pro fur groups or animal activist groups can influence the conclusion of which material is more eco friendly and more ethical]



Energy Footprint Of Faux Fur

There are several sources that outline real fur as being more energy intensive than faux fur

But, one source indicates that faux fur coats use more non renewable energy than real fur.  


Faux Fur vs Real Fur

Several sources indicate that fur farms can be energy intensive, and real fur may consume anywhere from 4 to 20 times more energy than faux fur according to different estimates


But, has a different point to outline:

[Some studies/reports say that] faux fur coats consume more non-renewable energy [that real fur]

[Whether or not a report or study is provided by pro fur groups or animal activist groups can influence the conclusion of which material is more eco friendly and more ethical]


Water Footprint Of Faux Fur

At this point in time, we do not have data on the water footprint of faux fur

It’s conceivable though that synthetic materials us a reasonable amount of water to extract and refine petrochemical compounds, and then there’s the production of synthetic fibres, and manufacture of a faux fur garment or product to consider.


Biodegradability Of Faux Fur

Faux fur may take hundreds or thousands of years to break down, and may not break down fully at all in some instances.

When faux fur does break down, it might break down into micro plastic fibres.

By contrast, real fur may be able to break down, or even compost with the space of a year or a few years.


Faux Fur

[Faux fur] synthetic materials can take a long time to break down, possibly anywhere from 500 to 1,000 years (


Faux Fur vs Real Fur

Faux materials can be made of acrylic … [which] can take hundreds of years to biodegrade in a landfill [and] … animal fur, by contrast, biodegrades in just a few years … (


… Unlike real fur — which will eventually biodegrade … faux fur fibres could take hundreds of years to break down. In the meantime, it’s likely to take up space on landfill sites (


Lifespan Of Faux Fur

Cheap, low quality faux furs may not have as long of a lifespan as some higher quality real furs.


Faux Fur vs Real Fur

… the fabric [faux fur] doesn’t “breathe” in the same way natural materials do … leading to unpleasant smells that are impossible to eradicate, shortening the product’s lifespan.

In contrast, natural fibre materials … such as … rabbit fur [and different types of animal skins are] … bio-degradable and durable, lasting — with care — for up to thirty years …



Recycling & Upcycling Of Faux Fur

Faux fur may be able to be repurposed, donated, or turned into energy when it reached the end of it’s lifespan.

This might depend on the quality and type of faux fur though – some may not be able to be repurposed if they are of poor quality, or not the right type of plastic or design. indicates that:

A faux fur coat at the end of its life can be repurposed in other items or given to a local shelter where it can be used to keep injured animals comforted and warm.

Synthetic waste can be upgraded into new sources of energy like industrial gas or fuel.


Chemicals Used To Make Faux Fur

Faux fur may use chemicals to both produce synthetic fibres, and also to treat and finish the faux fur material/product (such as acrylic dyes for example).


The production of synthetic fibers also involves chemical reactions at high temperatures, producing potentially harmful substances (


Impact Of Faux Fur On The Environment,  Human Health, & Wildlife

The Environment

Some of the potential eco or sustainability issues of faux fur might include:

Synthetic fibres like faux fur fibres use non renewable, finite feedstock in the form of petrochemicals

The production of synthetic fibres may result in carbon emissions, air pollution, and environmental issues related to waste water pollution and other types of untreated discharge or dumping from the production process

Some environmental reports indicate that acrylic in particular as a fibre/material has one of the worst environmental impacts when compared to 8 other fibres

When synthetic faux fur products are washed or disposed of, they may release micro plastics into the environment. Even if they don’t release many micro plastic fibres during washing, they may release them when they break down after disposal

Synthetic faux fur may also take up to thousands of years to break down, or never break down (like what is suggested for plastics)

Some reports indicate that synthetic faux fur rates worse across some eco indictors compared to real fur, whilst others indicate the opposite. What conclusion is drawn can depend on whether a pro or anti fur group is publishing the conclusion/report

Bio based faux furs may rate better than synthetic faux furs according to some eco metrics, and the same might be said of recycled plastic faux fur products.


The manufacture of fake fur requires petrochemicals (a finite resource) … (


[One of the main problems] with synthetic polymers are [that] the use of fossil energy [involves …] emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides as well as all kinds of hydrocarbons, and heavy metals (


[There’s also the] environmental impact of microfibers, the tiny plastic particles that synthetic fabrics shed in the wash.

Whatever isn’t filtered out by wastewater treatment plants can end up in waterways and in the food supply, ingested by aquatic animals

[Plastic based faux furs also release microfibers when washed in the washing machine]

– indicates that:

A faux fur coat does not add microfibers in the oceans.

It will be washed once a year therefore its impact can not be compared to that of other synthetics washed every weeks.

In addition to that … a faux fur coat will have to be washed at very low temperature (less than 30°) thus minimizing the release of microfibers in the water.


Today’s faux fabric is made up of … acrylic and polyester [and … Acrylic had the worst environmental impact of nine fibres studied in a 2014 report by the European Commission …

[And …] when faux fur garments are washed, microfibres may leak into the water system [and end up in the environment]



[Faux fur may be comparable to polyester or acrylic textiles in terms of eco impact, unless they have type of bio based or recycled component to them] (



… [Faux fur is] manufactured from … nylon and polyester, which are the main culprits for shedding microfibers 

[ goes into deeper detail about how synthetic fibre materials like faux fur can release microscopic plastic fibres into waste water, the environment, and eventually they are absorbed by wildlife]


[When] full planetary impact is taken into account … [faux fur has potential to] be highly damaging [and it can be] difficult to conclude which fur type is worse [depending on what measure of sustainability you’re looking at, and considering the use of animals in real fur]

[For example, some studies/reports say that] faux fur coats consume more non-renewable energy, have greater risk of potential impacts of global warming and greater risk of eco-toxicity impacts [and] Another … found that real fur biodegrades faster than faux fur.

[Whether or not a report or study is provided by pro fur groups or animal activist groups can influence the conclusion of which material is more eco friendly and more ethical]



Human Health

Chemicals used or released during faux fur production and manufacturing may impact production facility workers’ health and safety, depending on the level of protection in place for them, and how strictly it’s enforced.



Various sources indicate that faux fur may impact wildlife indirectly in the form of micro plastic fibre pollution, and pollution from production processes


Several sources also accurately identify that faux fur has an indirect impact on wild life and the environment – via chemicals and pollution at the production phase. So, they aren’t completely animal friendly (


Examples Of More Eco Friendly, Sustainable & Animal Friendly Faux Fur

Some of the examples of more sustainable or eco friendly faux fur might include:

– Making faux fur from bio based feedstock, like plants, pre or post consumer off-cut material, or even fibres like TENCEL

– Making faux fur from recycled plastic

– Making faux fur locally, and sourcing materials from countries with better laws and regulations around pollution

– Making faux furs to last longer than one or two years

– Using closed loop production, and other practices or systems that capture waste waste, and treat chemicals, or re-use chemicals and water

– Manufacturers providing clearer information on exactly how their faux furs are made and what they are made from, and consumers reading this information to make more informed purchase decisions 

– Caring for faux furs better at the consumer stage, and donating or recycling faux fur instead of disposing to landfill

It’s worth noting that lead time on introducing new faux fur technology to market may be a challenge, and new faux furs may still be imperfect from a sustainability perspective.


Examples Of More Sustainable Or More Eco Friendly Faux Fur

Making faux fur from recycled polyester might decrease the carbon footprint.

[To make faux fur more eco friendly and ethical if it’s sold within the United States] – it can be cruelty free, made of recycled polyester, made in New York City to reduce its carbon footprint, with sourcing of fabrics from Europe, where regulations around pollution are stricter than in China.

They can also be made to last decades or an entire lifespan [to increase sustainability]




[Ecopel provides a faux fur that uses closed-loop production technology that re-uses water and chemicals used in production]

[Ecopel are also experimenting with recycyled faux fur from post consumer plastic bottles]

[Ecopel have also ventured in plant based faux fur] made from corn-based ingredients from the biofuel industry [that uses] 30% less energy and emitting 63% less greenhouse gases than traditional faux fur production


[Bio based faux furs made of plant based ingredients may be more sustainable or eco friendly in some ways]

[Consumers can make more informed purchasing decisions by researching] brands’ production processes. This includes looking at not just how it’s made, but who’s making it and what’s likely to happen at the end of its lifetime.

[Care for you fur products when you have them, wear them for as long as you can, and if you can donate them or sell them for secondhand use, this can contribute to more sustainable fur and faux fur products]



[Improved faux furs may include] faux fur made from 100 per cent recycled post-consumer plastic … [the use of] Tencel, a cellulose fibre, for lining, and [recycling] factory offcuts into plush

[Another new faux fur product may include a faux fur made of 100% bio based faux fur, instead of being partially bio based fibres, and partially recycled plastic fibres]



Challenges With New Faux Fur Technology & Products

Challenges with new faux furs can include lead time to market, whether or not synthetic materials and plastics are still used, and other factors.


[When it comes to bio based faux furs ]… natural elements such as collagen are now being grown in labs, but it could be some time before they’re introduced to the commercial market (


[Rather than real fur, or faux furs that are made with chemicals, plastics and petroleum based compounds, newly developed faux furs may offer improvements over both, although they aren’t perfect] (


Economic Impact Of Faux Fur

Various economic stats indicate that real fur has a much bigger market share than faux fur, and contributes more to the global economy.

It can be assumed that real fur provides more jobs and income as a result.

Faux fur appears more a niche fibre/material at this stage.


Value Of The Global Fur Industry indicates that ‘… the global fur trade has now been valued at more than $40 Billion worldwide – roughly the same as the global Wi-Fi industry’

Although, it’s hard to get a split in each country, and also worldwide, of what % of the fur industry is made up of real fur value and faux fur value.



Faux fur is a niche production: it represents less than 0.1 % of the 80 billions garments produced every year (


Demand For Real Fur Is Much Higher Than Faux Fur

One of the perceived problems with faux fur is that demand is lagging far behind real fur … So, either consumer awareness about faux fur is questionable, or, consumers are bypassing the ethics involved with fur production for various reasons.

In 2018, the global industry [of real fur] is still valued at more than $40 billion [which … is] a number that dwarfs the market for faux fur …



Practical Benefits Of Faux Fur

One of the practical benefits of faux fur is that it can be manufactured for different looks and textures that real fur might not be able to.

Another is that is can be cheap and affordable.

From a processing point of view, some sources indicate faux fur has a longer processing time than real fur.


Faux fur [can be] processed, dyed, and cut to match a specific fur texture and color (


… the acrylic nature of fake fur requires a longer processing time than natural fur before it is ready for commercial use (


Alternative & Substitute Fibres/Materials To Faux Fur

Alternatives/Substitutes mentions that if you want to avoid micro plastic pollution that may come from the washing of faux fur, natural fibres like cotton, hemp and wool may be a good choice


Potential Tradeoffs Of Alternatives/Substitutes

Fur and faux fur can be substituted with different materials, but you have to consider what fibre or material is being used instead, and what the associated tradeoff is.

If it’s cotton for example, cotton can be water hungry, and can involve the heavy use of pesticides, herbicides and nitrogen based synthetic fertilizer.

This is just one of many potential examples though.

There’s always pros and cons to each fibre – natural and synthetic (and also semi synthetic/regenerated fibres).


Comparing Real Fur & Faux Fur

In this guide, we provide a comparison of real fur and faux fur.



















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