The myths of 'ethical' sourcing.

When discussing and selling oddities such as bones, wet specimens, or other animal byproducts, I choose to use the term "sustainably sourced" rather than "ethically sourced."

This decision stems from the realization that terms like "ethically sourced" are often overused in marketing to appeal to consumers' ethical concerns, yet they may not always reflect genuine ethical practices.

One of the primary reasons for this choice is the absence of a clear authority figure to establish and enforce moral standards or legal codes of ethics in the world of oddities. Views on what constitutes "ethical" in the oddity community vary widely, and there is no universally agreed-upon definition nor legal writ about what is considered 'ethical' by the eyes of the law. This lack of clarity raises questions about whether the use of terms like "ethical" is more about promotion than actual ethical conduct.

Another issue is the complexity surrounding the concept of "ethical sourcing." While some argue that it should involve animals that died naturally, distinguishing between natural deaths and those resulting from euthanasia due to illness can be challenging. Where does roadkill fall on this spectrum? Being struck by a moving vehicle is not a 'natural' death, and often is a very painful way to go if it is not instantaneous. What about wildlife management? Showing mercy to a rabid animal and culling them isn't 'natural' either if this is the argument we are going by here. Additionally, regulated hunting for food blurs the lines between ethics and legality, highlighting a disconnect between perceived ethical practices and common taxidermy practices, such as mounting deer or elk heads.

In contrast, using the term "sustainably sourced" emphasizes a focus on responsible sourcing practices and environmental stewardship. It communicates a commitment to minimizing environmental impact and promoting the responsible use of resources. This aligns with principles of transparency and legal compliance, as well as the Indigenous Peoples' tradition of using every part of an animal.

The term "sustainably sourced" acknowledges the subjective nature of ethics in the oddity community and emphasizes the importance of thorough research, transparency in sourcing, and adherence to personal and legal standards. It encourages caution in using terms like "ethically sourced" and promotes a nuanced understanding of the ethical considerations involved in the craft.

While the term "ethically sourced" may aim to provide moral reassurance, its subjective and ambiguous nature throws a large red flag as far as how 'ethical' the shop's sourcing actually is. Many shops consider their illegally poached bats that were obtained through illegal routes of delivery* from Asia to be 'ethically sourced', for example.

*(International sellers often claim packages full of them as 'gifts' or toys on custom forms rather than importing them correctly through the Fish and Wildlife ports with permits) .

By opting to use the term "sustainably sourced" instead, I am prioritizing transparency, environmental responsibility, and adherence to legal and ethical standards in my work with oddities.