Animal Rights

Is Buying Second-Hand Leather, Fur, Wool, & Feather Ethical?

I’m curious…if you’re vegan, how do you feel about buying/wearing second-hand leather, fur, wool, and even feathers/down? Is it okay or is it hypocritical and unethical?

For me, I haven’t supported the leather, fur, wool, or feather industries in years. I’ve been avoiding leather since I was a teenager, wool since my early twenties, feathers since my early/mid twenties, and fur my entire life. And the only reason I continued to use the first three as long as I did is because I was completely unaware of the truly brutal acts committed against the animals in these industries. Once I learned about these industries, I decided that I wasn’t (and am not) alright with the animal cruelty and suffering that goes on all the time.

Here is a taste of what animals in these industries face every day:

FUR — animals are commonly caught in steel-jaw traps, animals have been and continue to be skinned alive, animals are electrocuted anally and genitally, etc.

LEATHER — animals are subjected to branding, castration, and dehorning all without painkillers, animals are also sometimes skinned alive, animals face violent abuse, etc.

WOOL — animals commonly have their tails docked and males are castrated without the use of painkillers, many have their genitals accidentally cut during shearing, and more.

FEATHER — birds are live plucked and quite often have their feathers ripped out by the fistful (again, without anesthetics), birds are violently handled and grabbed and many have their wings and necks stepped on, and they suffer in many other ways.

As you can see, it’s not nice what these animals experience. And, really, what gives us the right to hurt and kill animals for their skin, coat, wool, or feathers? We don’t have any right to do that and it’s disgusting that humans are okay with killing other living beings, simply for a jacket, sweater, purse, pair of shoes, etc.  To support these industries is to support animal cruelty.

But what about buying second-hand? Is it ethical to be against the torture and slaughter of animals for these products, but still choose to buy/wear them second-hand? Let’s weigh the pros and cons of buying second-hand leather, fur, wool, and feather.


  • does not directly (financially) support these industries
  • pieces will last a long time (fur and leather, at least)
  • more affordable (than buying new)
  • stops items from going to the landfill


  • visually supports these industries (in the sense that others may see your item and then choose to directly support these industries)
  • wearing something that resulted from animal cruelty and suffering

I think it’s up to the individual to either buy and wear second-hand fur, leather, wool, and feather or not. I think it’s a better choice than buying them new and financially supporting senseless animal cruelty. But I also believe the best option is to choose to support, buy, and wear vegan alternatives — even over second-hand items. Ultimately, buying these products second-hand is completely a personal choice. There are pros and cons to buying/wearing second-hand fur, leather, wool, and feather, and we each have to decide for ourselves which outweigh which.

I personally would never buy second-hand fur, leather, or even wool and feather. Even though I know that I wouldn’t be directly supporting these industries and they wouldn’t be getting any of my money, I just would not like knowing that I’m wearing something that is the result of animal suffering…something that represents these gross industries. Wearing animal by-products is completely unnecessary because there are so many wonderful alternatives available. Buying and wearing anything made from an animal (even second-hand) is not for me.

Vegans: do you think it’s okay to buy and wear second-hand fur, leather, wool, or feather? Would you personally wear any of these (if they were second-hand)?

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