ETHICALLY SOURCED SHEEPSKIN RUGS:
The truth behind mass produced sheepskin and why buying ethically sourced sheepskin is the way to go!
(one of our farmer's sheep herds, grazing on natural untreated grasses on the mountain side)
The truth unveiled
Guys, let us be honest. The fur trade is not pretty. In-fact, if you ever are feeling emotionally stuck and need something to make you full on ball out cry, just watch any video showcasing the horrors of the fur industry. It's deplorable. Absolutely a tragedy to the animal kingdom. The thing is, it's not just the big companies that are to blame. It's the little companies that often go unnoticed. All across the world. And not only is it devastating to the animal kingdom, but it is an environmental disaster. Parts of India are so polluted from the Indian leather trade, that people can't even consume the water but moving isn't an option for many...so you see where this is going.
Choosing your sheepskin
When choosing a sheepskin, it's very important to consider where it's coming from. Why? If you care about the environment, animal and human rights, then you have your answer. Many online stores boost that they provide "natural" sheepskins, but that's as green washed as "Simply Orange" saying it's a natural orange juice (my ass it is). Just because it's organic, doesn't mean it's not mass farmed. And what does "natural" even mean? Sourcing ethically produced pelts is one thing, but then there is the matter of making sure your pelt isn't loaded with harsh chemicals. For instance, there are some local farmers that we specifically don't buy from because they choose to use harsh chemicals on their skins for fast production. So just because it's local, doesn't guarantee its natural. And trust me, those chemicals are loaded with heavy metals that you DO NOT want around your kids or animals.
Here's my rule of thumb for knowing if a sheepskin seller is indeed actually sourcing locally, ethically, and truly not using harsh chemicals.
Do they have identical looking pelts available? If so, something is up. It's impossible to have multiple looking pelts, all perfectly in the same shape. It is just not doable unless there is a lot of processing, handling, and unlimited supply of that same breed of sheep. For instance, we might offer three sheepskins that were all from the same herd, but each of those pelts will look slightly different. Specifically the shape and coloring. When Ikea says they have 280 white sheepskins in stock, something isn't right. Mass farmed, highly processed.
Are there inconsistencies? Have you ever been to a Farmer's Market and noticed that all the fruits and veggies look different? Maybe some of them still have some dirt on them from being freshly picked from the farm? The same goes with sheepskin and goat hides. If your pelt looks perfect, chances are it was highly processed using harsh chemicals.
What's the price point? This one really gets me, because you can go onto Amazon and find real sheepskin pelts that are $45 - $60. But that's a big red flag. Even in Russia, where wages are low (and I mean $500 a month average salary low) you still can't find a natural sheepskin for this little. That price signifies it's probably mass farmed and also promoting extremely low wages for whoever is producing the fur.
Visiting one of the farm's we work with. Although, this is not a caged pasture. This is literally miles of open field at the base of a mountain. The herdsman bring them in as soon as the sun begins to set.
All in all, buying an ethically sourced sheepskin or goat hide is the way to go. The mass farm fur trade breeds cruelty, environmental devastation, and unethical working conditions.
At East Perry
At East Perry we work with two different local farms. The practice of tanning sheepskin dates back to 4000 years when the local tribes hid in caves from the Mongolian warriors. People have been wearing sheepskin for thousand of years. And not just wearing it, but eating it and using the bone broth for various treatments. The sheep roam free everyday, grazing upon miles and miles of mountainous hills. They eat mountain grass and drink from glacier springs. And finally, they are respected. They aren't treated like a commodity but as a living creature. Their meat is used at weddings and funerals, and people here believe that truly good meat comes from an animal that lived a great life.