Re: Wool rug and animal rights
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 13:47:27 -0700 (PDT)
On Sep 24, 2012, at 11:49 AM, Melanie Mindlin <sassetta [at]> wrote:

> I was recently at a gathering where differences in attitudes to animal rights 
> was a topic.  Some people seem to feel that compassion to animals is an issue 
> of such importance that it trumps all other concerns.  Others are looking at 
> animal suffering as only one issue in a large picture of suffering on the 
> planet from all sorts of causes.

Exactly the problem. It is also compounded by the objector not really 
understanding the issue very well and being very emotional about it. He walked 
out of our meeting obviously angry and frustrated when he had no counter 
argument to the argument that a decision to set a budget for a team purchasing 
furniture was not the place to set policy about animal products in the common 

We specifically decided not to limit food cooked in the kitchen and have 
accepted donations of wool rugs. We don't have leather furniture but there are 
things with leather straps and small pieces of leather in the CH. To ban all 
animal products would require that we also have an authority who determines 
what animal free products are. How do we know what is in the glue in the 
furniture or that a million fish were not killed in the runoff from a cotton 
processing factory? He can't expect each team to research every product as 
extensively as it would require to guarantee that there are no animal derived 
products used. 

We ensured that the wool was from New Zealand which by all reports has the most 
humane animal practices and that no child labor was used in the weaving and 
knotting. I think he will only be satisfied if we can prove that no animals 
were "enslaved" to produce a product.

I've asked our residents who are environmental experts to get together and 
write a policy, but they said, it's too hard. It's six of one and half-dozen of 
the other. You choose your poison. The best you can do are the obvious things 
-- recycle, compost, avoid obvously bad companies and products, use low VOC 
when possible, avoid off-gassing, etc., that we already do.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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