|Tue July 30 2013 16:00:47|
Does New Etsy Animal Products Prohibition Go Too Far?
By: Julia Wilkinson
Fur, feathers, and even certain types of fibers were flying on the Etsy discussion board about its new Prohibited Items policy. Although the lion's share (sorry) of the comments applauded Etsy's integrity and commitment to protecting endangered species and their parts, quite a few sellers - such as those of vintage or "pre-ban" parts like old ivory - were unhappy with the changes and some felt it went too far or introduced a slippery slope of banning everything animal-part related.
And other sellers who sold vintage items were not happy with the change. "Hazel," whose shop is "Pinguim", wrote that sellers who had vintage "pre-ban" type items listed would be out of the funds invested in such pieces, and also the time they had invested in researching pre- vs. post- ban pieces. "This new policy will hurt those who know the difference and have invested and researched accordingly," she wrote.
But an admin on the Etsy board, "Bonnie," responded that "the risk that the legal status of these items may be unknown or mislabeled is too great, and the continued sale of these items stands to perpetuate market demand and further jeopardize the existence of these species."
While Etsy's firm stance against pieces such as ivory was clear, there seemed to be more grey area in products made of materials such as fiber and feathers. A seller known as "whiskeyish" wrote, "I'm sorry, but correct me if I'm wrong - you're banning any and all camel fiber, chinchilla fiber, bighorn sheep fiber, markhor fiber, etc., without considering any ramifications? That means you're banning camel hair coats (bactrian camels), cashmere sweaters (kashmir markhor), spun wool yarn (from mixed fiber sources), and chinchilla fiber from someone brushing a pet chinchilla, no exceptions."
In a highlighted response on the board, Bonnie said that "Etsy is NOT instituting a blanket ban on fibers. After consulting with fiber experts, we have learned that there is minimal risk that fibers come from endangered species or that animals are harmed in the collection of fiber or hair. As a result, we have decided not to proactively pursue fibers as part of this new policy." She went on to say that Etsy trusts sellers "to use your knowledge and common sense when listing items for sale on Etsy."
Feathers were another issue. "I've seen a lot of feathers on here that are not allowed," wrote one seller, adding that "a common bird may not be endangered or threatened, but still protected under the Migratory Bird Act. I think some wording about that act would be a helpful reminder - it doesn't have to be endangered to be protected by law!"
In general, Etsy says they are most concerned with "with the types of products Lauren mentioned in her blog post: fur, pelts, ivory, teeth, bones, and taxidermy," and that their
intention "is not to ban all leather, wool or fiber products, but to reduce the market for items made from protected species by disallowing products on Etsy described in the FAQ and specifically noted in the ESA."
In some media coverage of the policy tightening by Etsy, such as this piece in Slate, it was pointed out that with this move Etsy goes further than other marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon. And while the new policy is humane, it leaves aficionados of various materials saddened that some of them may now go to waste.
"It makes me wanna cry when I see someone bring an old piano to the landfill. All those ivory keys could be used, should be used somehow," wrote Antoinette of AntoinettesWhims.
What do you think? Is this new, good-intentioned policy update by Etsy completely a good thing? Do you think it's too restrictive in some areas? Will it affect you, based on the types of items you sell, and if so will you move the newly banned products onto a marketplace that allows them? Post a comment here!