As the trend for cruelty-free living continues to expand, consumers are becoming more savvy about keeping every part of their life cruelty-free. Diet may seem like the focal point of vegan living – but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Clothing and makeup have become logical next steps on the way to “veganising” your life, as devotees eliminate animal-derived fabrics and products that have been tested on animals from their lives – but recently, more and more followers of the vegan ideology have started extending the ban on these items to their homes. PETA has introduced a Vegan Homeware Award, and companies like Haven Furniture proudly tout their vegan-friendly lines. In short, it has never been simpler to create a cruelty-free home.
You might hear the words “vegan” and “cruelty-free” used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. Sometimes, vegan products aren’t cruelty-free, and cruelty-free products aren’t vegan. When you see a product labeled as “vegan,” that just means that it doesn’t include animal ingredients – it doesn’t mean the product wasn’t tested on animals. Similarly, when you see a product labeled as “cruelty-free,” that only means its ingredients or the finished product wasn’t tested on animals. Case in point: beeswax can be cruelty-free – but it definitely isn’t vegan.
Preparing to Go Vegan and Cruelty-Free at Home
The first step to creating a cruelty-free home is figuring out which products, materials and derivatives can and cannot be used. Some are pretty obvious – we all know what leather sofas aren’t vegan, for example – but there are hidden animal derivatives lurking in many products we use on a daily basis.
Animal-derived materials used in home decor:
Animal-derived ingredients used in cleaning products and other home-care products:
- Glues used in woodwork and musical instruments
- Glycerin – sometimes vegan, sometimes derived from animal fat
- Keratin – protein that comes from round-up hooves, horns, feathers and quills
- Lanolin – from carmine (crushed bugs)
- Tallow – made from animal fat
What to Do With Products You Can’t Keep in Your Vegan, Cruelty-Free Home
There are a couple of schools of thought on this, so take some time to weigh your options. Remember: whatever you decide is your business, nobody else’s.
- Use your items until you can’t anymore. You might decide to keep using your products until they are worn out and unusable. When the items are no longer useful, replace them with new cruelty-free products.
- Sell or donate. You might decide to give sell your items off or just give them away. It might seem like a small thing, but by donating or selling, you’re preventing a new purchase that would directly impact animals and their welfare.
- Dispose of responsibly. You might choose to get rid of the products without passing them on – especially if they are so worn that they cannot be used by someone else. Make sure to look for the most sustainable and safe way to dispose of your items.
Alternatives to Cleaning and Household Products Tested on Animals
There is a vast variety of alternative vegan and cruelty-free products out there that are often superior in quality to their animal-based counterparts. Many are plant-based and some are synthetic. As always, make sure you read the label, and if you have any doubts, make your voice heard and contact the brand.
Here’s a list of brands and products to get you started:
- Bar Keepers Friend
- Bio D
- Faith In Nature
- Mrs. Meyer’s
- Seventh Generation
Furniture and Bedding
Cruelty-free, vegan furniture is made without harming or displacing animals, and it doesn’t include any animal products like leather or down. Synthetic leathers feel just like the real deal, and you can opt for faux fur and down alternatives made from plant-based and synthetic materials.
Brands that cater to the needs of vegan decor lovers:
- GreenCulture Furniture
- Terra Furnishings
- West Elm
Cruelty-free bedding companies:
- Bamboo Village
A Word on Logos
Just like with beauty products, cruelty-free logos on household products can be hard to trust if you aren’t sure where they come from. Remember to avoid cruelty-free logos that you don’t recognise – logos that are created by companies themselves are in many cases misleading, and in others, completely fabricated. Your best bet is to find a company with a logo from Choose Cruelty-Free or Cruelty-free International’s Leaping Bunny, which each vet and accredit businesses. And just like with beauty, you know by now that companies that sell their products in brick-and-mortar stores in mainland China are required to test on animals by law. Knowledge is power – arm yourself with all the information you can find in order to be sure that you are truly shopping cruelty-free.
Previously published by Redfin. All photos courtesy of Redfin.