Here's an oxymoron for you: eco-fur. After spending a year overseas, Portlander Chrys Hutchings launched a decor business that she feels helps save a country overpopulated with possums from ecological havoc.
The country is New Zealand and the animal is a brushtail possum, seen by the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society as the "number one threat to [our] native species." According to The Oregonian, the current possum count is around 60 million and, since there are no possum predators in New Zealand, the government manages overpopulation by using aerial drops of sodium fluoroacetate, which kills more slowly and can harm dogs, deer and other wildlife.
In contrast, Hutchings says that buying possum fur creates jobs for rural trappers, and encourages more humane trapping or poisoning with potassium cyanide, shown in studies to kill relatively quickly. But while the possums aren't coming from fur farms, tanning typically includes toxic chemicals, traps can malfunction and animals may suffer.
A visit to Hutchings' web-based business -- Eco-Luxury Fur -- turns up handmade pillows and throws ranging in price from $100 to $2,800. Depending on whether the fur is shorn or unshorn, colors range from chocolate brown to caramel and gray.
As Hutchings says, "I don't have a fur (coat). I have no interest in owning a fur. I would not have done this unless I truly believed in the conservation ideals behind it." But really, is this "All the luxury, none of the guilt," or just a wolf in possum's clothing? And if you already decorate with fur, would you try this version instead?