Writing for three green business blogs, I come across and write about my fair share of ideas. My greenwash filter is quick, swift, and merciless. And then you come across something like Wild Wool, and everything gets confused.
The front page has pleasing images of piles of soft, fuzzy fabric and clothing, made from what it describes as, “…a 100% natural fiber product made from 60% merino wool and 40% paihamu spun together to make a premium cashmere-like fabric that is softer, warmer, and lighter than plain wool.” Sounds good so far, right?
My eyebrow started to cock when I read a seemingly throwaway sentence, without a connecting justification for it: “Eco-friendly and practical – talk about a great way to reduce, reuse and recycle.”
Going to the Ecological Profile page to learn more, I was surprised to read what I can say is the most unique claim to being sustainable I’ve seen in a while – Basically, by killing them for their fur, they are helping restore ecological balance on New Zealand. [social_buttons]
For context, it explains that the Paihamu is a non native animal without natural predators, has overrun New Zealand and now numbers an estimated 70 million. They consume 20,000 tons of vegetation nightly, and go after, among others, the kiwi bird, and endangered icon of New Zealand. They are potential carriers/spreaders of Tuberculosis. New Zealand’s official way to deal with them is by using a poison (1080) that’s been banned from US Federal lands since the 70s, and results in other unintended deaths of other animals.
While this may make sense on a pragmatic level, it’s troublesome that that be used as a way to claim being a sustainable product. And in a recent article on Ideal Bite, it sparked a fierce debate.
In the FAQ, they seem aware of this tightrope they walk on, making sure to mention, “The vast majority of Paihamu are killed using cyanide laced bait and they are unconscious within seconds. A smaller number are trapped in humane traps or hunted.”
So, readers, what do you make of this? I’m undecided. Taking the emotional component out and being purely rational, it makes sense, from an overall perspective. And yet, it was we humans that introduced it in the first place, should we live with the consequences?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts, below.