In May 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the Amazon websites for its policy on the selling of animal clothing materials such as fur, angora, merino wool, and silk.
A page entitled "Animals & Animal-Related Products", which was a part of the company's policy for sellers on its platform in the United States.
The list of prohibited items did not include fur or feathers (except from a list of endangered species), angora, merino wool from mulesing or silk. As a result Amazon lost a whole mark under Ethical Consumer's Animal Rights categories for the following reasons:
Fur and angora: the industry exploits and kills animals for fur for fashion. Many companies have banned real fur from being used in their products.
Down (feathers): According to campaign group Four Paws, animal suffering from the live-plucking and force-feeding of geese and ducks was present in the general down supply chains. In order to avoid these practices, a company was expected to adopt a standard that would trace and audit their whole supply chain, including higher-risk parent farms, to ensure such cruelties were excluded. Four Paws had found that certificates and audit reports from suppliers themselves 'do not provide sufficient guarantees that animals have a cruelty free life.'
Merino wool: According to PETA, the production of Australian merino wool involved the cruel practice of mulesing. Merino sheep are specifically bred to have wrinkled skin, which means more wool per animal. Attracted to the moisture, flies lay eggs in the folds of skin, and the hatched maggots can eat the sheep alive. In order to prevent this condition called “flystrike,” Australian ranchers perform 'mulesing' which involves carving huge strips of skin and flesh off the backs of unanesthetised lambs’ legs and around their tails. This is done to cause smooth, scarred skin that won’t harbor fly eggs, yet the bloody wounds often get flystrike before they heal.
Silk: Silk was considered to be an animal rights issue, as the conventional process of harvesting silk involved heat-treating cocoons before metamorphosis occurred – to prevent damage to the silk fibres. This heat treatment resulted in the deaths of the silk worm larvae inside.
An alternative to conventional silk was 'peace' or 'vegetarian' silk – so called because the silk is harvested after the caterpillars have developed and hatched into moths.