Sustainability Part One- Life is Grey

Do you view the world in black and white or are you living in the grey?

I’ve had several people not buy my products or criticize me for what I sell because they are made from animals. In fact while I was at the Guelph Eco Market in late March a women stops at my table, points at a wallet and asks if it was leather. After I said yes she scoffs and in a demeaning tone says, what were you thinking?

If only this lady would have just stopped and actually talked to me I could have told her that it was recycled leather from factory cut offs, waste that didn’t have to go to the landfill.

I sometimes (always) feel like everyone is stuck in our north american white privilege bubble and we think we are better than everyone. I most certainly fall into that trap, everyone does.

Whether you are vegetarian, vegan, omnivore or something else, I’d like to think we can agree that people come first. Do I believe we can treat animals inhumanly for our own vanity? Of course not. Is there an over consumption of meat? Yes. Is the overproduction of meat attributing to climate change? Indeed, one of the many reason. As a vegetarian for over 10 years, I’ve been against the factory farming of meat because of indecent treatment of animals, unsustainable farming practices and human health. I believe that the food chain needs to be respected and treated with a lot of wisdom. I don’t think it’s wrong to kill an animal out of necessity or use what animals naturally produce, when done in a humane and sustainable way and for many fair trade artisans living in rural areas, working with animals is their only means of income.

The artisans I buy leather products from raise small herds of goats or cows with their families, consume or sell the meat and then turn the hid into sellable goods. It's called eco leather, free from all harsh chemicals, like azo dyes and formaldehyde, just vegetable oils and the sun.

Some leather is “no kill” leather, the animals die of natural causes so nothing goes to waste. Waste or resource?

Life is grey.

And then there is wool. All our organic wool again comes from small family farms where the animals are treated humanely. Wool producing animals needs to be sheared so why not use what would otherwise been thrown away? Yak yarn is collected by brushing the animal or gathering it from the tree bark they rub up on. Is there any impact in using gathered shedded hair?

Life is Grey.

Animals are useful. 80% of all bees in America are shipped to California to pollinate almond trees. Should I stop drinking almond milk? Cow manure is used to grow our fruits and vegetables. Should I only eat veggies grown with human waste?

Life is grey.

No matter your diet or lifestyle, higher demands call for larger production. Health trends may be healthy for our bodies but not necessarily for our planet. Reduce and think. If you want to be sustainable ask questions about each product you currently consume and those you potentially may consume.

I no longer call myself a vegetarian, call me…. an ethical consumer.

Life is grey.

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