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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Veganise your house: how to ensure your home is cruelty-free

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You’ve conquered the food and are ready to take the next steps in your home, but where do you start? We’ve got you covered with these simple steps on how to make your house more vegan.

With the vast number of readily accessible plant-based products now available, the food element is probably now one of the easiest aspects of veganism. However, going vegan is about so much more than food choices. It is about your whole lifestyle.

Whether you transitioned to veganism for ethical, environmental or health reasons, there are many ways you can align your home with your lifestyle to make them as vegan and cruelty-free as possible. This can seem like an overwhelming process that requires a lot of consideration, since a lot of the products and materials in our homes come from animals. However, we want to show how it can be done and look at a few changes you can start with.

The best thing to do is to take it room by room and break it down. Phasing out non-vegan products in your home can take a while, and when it comes to furniture, it might be rather expensive. Some people may want to replace all of their non-vegan items the minute they go vegan, others may use them until they wear out or are ready to be replaced. Simply getting rid of big pieces of furniture and buying something new isn’t always a valid option. The timing and approach will vary from person to person depending on individual circumstances.

However, when that time comes, you can confidently replace the items with a vegan alternative, and the easiest place to start is by looking at the more obvious things to avoid.

Leather, wool, fur and feathers

vegan houseLeather is a material that appears in most households. It is used in a wide variety of products, including shoes, belts, bags, luggage and decorative objects. However, the biggest culprit of leather use in homes is furniture. With the range of leather furniture being so vast and its use being so normalised it has meant that its manufacturing has almost become inseparable from the furniture industry.

The easiest way to combat this is simply not to buy products made from leather. Always check the labels and if you still want that ‘leather look’, opt for products made from ‘faux’ leather and even vegan leather. However, to be on the safe side, stick with fabric furniture and objects made from alternative materials.

If you want to go one step further, look for specific vegan products and companies that have an ethos aligning with your values. Snug is the new ‘sofa-in-a-box’ company, offering sustainable and vegan-friendly sofas. From the fabric and fillings right down to the wood used for the legs, founder Rob Bridgman makes it clear that Snug aspires to “leave the world in a better state than we found it”. Vegan furniture delivered to your door in days, having companies like this revolutionises the process of furniture buying, making it even easier to veganise your home: “We will always consider the social and environmental impact of any decisions we make as a business and will continue our efforts in helping the planet and people.”

Fur is one of the materials people immediately associate with animals and tend to try and avoid. However, in homes, fur can often be used for linings, especially in rugs. The simplest switch and closest alternative is faux fur, which is made up of synthetic fibres and can be manufactured to a high standard and good appearance.

There is an argument about which material is best from a sustainability and health aspect. Many synthetic materials are suspected to contain carcinogenic toxins and carpets can be lined with latex, so it is understandable that people may look to wool, which the industry claims to be sustainable and biodegradable, eliminating health concerns.

However, this obviously is not an option for a vegan home, since wool is manufactured from the cut hair of sheep or llamas. Fortunately, it is not the only viable material to choose from. There are certain plant fibres that will do the trick. For example, seagrass is a very green option, as it is both sustainable and biodegradable. Or you can avoid carpets altogether and opt for a wooden floor.

When trying to turn your home vegan, you will soon realise that down in clothing and bedding is not an option, due to the cruelty involved in obtaining feathers from ducks and geese. Feathers can appear in products all around the home, from lighting, bedding and cushions to winter jackets.

In this day and age, there are feather-bedding alternatives that have a similar feel to the real thing, but without the cruelty. When purchasing cushions just make sure to check what has been used inside the cover and opt for fibre fillings.

The sneaky culprits

vegan homeAlthough these may be classed as the less obvious things to look out for, silk and beeswax are still widely used in houses yet are easy to avoid. There are plenty of silk-free alternatives available — like lyocell and viscose, which are fabrics created from bamboo. Choose these to ensure that your cushions and bedding is cruelty-free.

In the home, the most common use of beeswax is with candles and cosmetics, but it is often used as wood polish. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of beeswax-free products available these days. From soy wax candles to sandwich wraps, many companies now offer these vegan alternatives, so it is as simple as checking a label. 

Paint is another product that people may be shocked about: “Most people might not realise that standard paint includes many animal products such as casein (the primary protein in milk), shellac (a resin secreted from the female lac bug), and ox gall, which comes from cows,” says Daniel Brooks, co-owner of Painting Columbus.

In addition to this, some paint companies test their products on animals, so be sure to do your research when picking out your paint.

Where does it all end?

vegan furnitureOnce you go down one rabbit hole, you may find yourself in another one and be left thinking: “How can I ever make my whole home vegan?” The truth is, you probably won’t and can’t.

Perfection does not exist, and unless you are very wealthy and know exactly what to look for every time you purchase something, it is very unlikely that you will be able to achieve a fully vegan home. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t try.

Every time you buy something vegan you will have more of a sense of peace and know that there is one more thing in your home that aligns with your lifestyle. If we all become more conscious when kitting out our homes, then we can avoid being implicit in an animal’s suffering and strive to live the most cruelty-free lives possible.

Tina Newman
Tina Newman is a writer, makeup artist and qualified Animal Nursing Assistant living in Suffolk, UK. She is the author of the vegan children's book series Vivi the Supervegan and mother to two little supervegans of her own. Tina had been vegetarian for 21 years until she found out what happens in the dairy industry and in September 2017 she went vegan overnight. She has been a passionate animal rights activist spreading awareness and helping to educate others ever since.

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