The Ugly Controversy Surrounding Uggs

When it comes to Ugg boots, there’s always the question of yay or nay? Anyone can spot these classic unisex shearling-lined boots from a mile away with their ever so familiar silhouette, shear exterior and logo centered on the back, but for some reason, people are either mega fans of them or wish they’d fade away. Whatever your opinion on them may be, Uggs boots are simply one of those few fashion trends that never goes away. Even when you don’t see many people wearing them at given time, you just know that someone is silently sporting them somewhere out there. But now that cold weather has come back around again, we can expect more people to break out their favorite pair of Uggs to keep them stylish and snug at the same time. Still, there’s no doubt that there’s a lot of controversy stemming from the fact that these popular shoes are made of sheepskin, which often causes people to second guess purchasing Uggs due to animal rights and ethical concerns in general. However, debate over whether ethical practices are used or not in the making of the footwear have been going on ever since the brand launched back in the 1970s. To get to the bottom of this, let’s explore both sides of the argument.

One of the most vocal groups against the practices used to make Ugg products is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The large animal rights organization has published pieces on its blog stating that torture methods are used in the process of obtaining the sheep’s wool for Uggs. These upsetting practices PETA has accused Ugg of committing include hole-punching earlobes and cutting tails, to name a few. This shocking information is indeed eye-opening and makes it all the more understandable if someone would want to refrain from buying Uggs. However, the exact statistics are unknown as the numbers and facts of animals harmed to supposedly make Uggs are not all available.

On the other hand, Ugg claims otherwise. On a section of its website titled “Our Commitment To Animal Welfare,” it is stated that, “UGG does not raise sheep and only purchases sheepskin from suppliers that comply with our strict animal welfare policy.” Regarding where they get the sheepskin that they use for their products, it is written, “There are two kinds of sheep farmers: farmers that raise sheep for wool and farmers that raise sheep for food. The sheepskin in UGG products comes from farmers that raise sheep primarily for food. For the farmer, approximately 90% of the value of a sheep is derived from selling the meat and less than 10% is derived from the sheepskin itself* (according to the American Sheep Industry Association)”. On a similar note, it was also written that “UGG only selects suppliers who meet our strict standards of ethical sourcing, including animal welfare. UGG requires all of our suppliers to use humane animal treatment in order to prevent animal abuse and animal cruelty. UGG believes that no sheep should ever be raised for their sheepskin alone” to prove that they practice responsible sourcing of sheepskin.

Basically, when everything has been said and done, it’s all a matter of personal decision and individual choice. Depending on where your opinion lies on the scale of ethics and animal rights, you may decide to boycott Ugg boots altogether or you might go on and choose between their multitude of styles that they offer. Wherever it is you decide to stand on the Uggs argument, in the end, it’s your personal values that will ultimately choose for you.

Sherah Ndjongo is a staff writer. Email her at violetvision@nyunews.com.

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