Ballot Question 301 – Humane Clothing Act

Image by Charisse Kenion via Unsplash

Friday, Sept. 24, 2021

Ballot language

Shall the City of Boulder prohibit the sale and manufacture for sale of certain fur products?

What it means

Should Boulder ban the sale, manufacture and trade of new fur products? 

Exemptions are included for

  • Indigenous peoples (as defined by state and federal law)
  • Used fur or fur products (in thrift stores, etc.)
  • Leather, lamb and sheepskin, cowhide, taxidermy, or dog and cat fur

Who is supporting

This initiative was brought forward by Fur-Free Boulder, a group of Boulderites “focused on ending the exploitation of animals in the fur industry.” Backers are officially registered with the city as The Humane Clothing Act Committee. View committee filings

Campaign spending

Contributions: $0
Expenditures: $0
As of Sept. 21, 2021. View filings

Who is opposed

There is no formal opposition to this measure (meaning no group has formally filed with the city) though some businesses are opposed.

Why you might want to vote for this

The alleged abuses of the fur industry are well documented. That has led many companies and entire countries to ban or restrict fur farming. The nation of Israel, state of California and five U.S. cities have prohibited fur sales the way this measure would, according to Fur-Free Alliance. (Fur-Free Boulder is not affiliated with the Alliance, according to organizers.)

Even if the production of fur is done without abuse or cramped conditions, killing animals for clothing or decoration is no longer necessary, advocates argue. In our world of cottons, linens, synthetic, recycled and plant-based materials, fur has become “outdated and unnecessary.” 

Many exemptions have been crafted for more common animal products like leather, which should limit its impact on businesses.

No business currently operating in Boulder relies primarily on fur sales or manufacturing (though many may use fur in their products; see more below). This would prevent such businesses from establishing in the future.

Why you might not want to vote for this

No Boulder businesses currently operating are primarily selling and/or manufacturing fur products. However, several businesses do sell and/or manufacture products that may be impacted by the ban. Many hats, for instance, use felt from beaver pelts and/or English hares.

The extent of the impacts are unknown; business owners report confusion over which of their products may fall under the ban.  Nonetheless, they argue that businesses can’t afford to take any losses so close on the heels of COVID closures.

Opponents argue that synthetic materials have a host of environmental impacts. Using non-farmed fur from animals being trapped and/or raised for other purposes is more environmentally friendly, they say.

Combined with the long list of exemptions and the fact that fur has fallen out of favor anyway — the world’s largest fur auction house plans to close in 2023, New York Times reported earlier this year, and Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s intend to close their fur salons as well — some people argue that the law is largely symbolic and, therefore, unnecessary.

Others have argued against limiting personal freedom and choice, even as it pertains to killing animals which, they point out, many humans happily do for food.

— Shay Castle, @shayshinecastle

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Ballot Question 301 – Humane Clothing Act