PVC Options For Vegans Are Not Cruelty Free
You may think that saying no to leather and buying faux leather alternatives; e.g. vinyl boots and bags, are cruelty free, but I am here to state the opposite, PVC/Vinyl options for vegans are not cruelty free!
PVC is one of the most toxic plastics on earth. This is especially true when it comes to the production and disposal phases of PVC products.
When I first went down the cruelty free lifestyle path (approximately 20 years ago), I thought, like many vegans and vegetarians, that opting out of leather and choosing vinyl was a humane, ethical and green choice. Decades later, I now know this to be the polar opposite, PVC options for vegans are not cruelty free!
In the past I have written articles on LivingSafe.com.au about the hazardous problems of PVC Toys and PVC School Supplies and how to avoid them by choosing safer alternatives. I have also written about the toxic impacts PVC has on our environment, but this article is different. I want to shed some light on how choosing vinyl shoes, handbags and furniture is not actually an ethical and humane option for vegans!
I am by no means telling vegans to go out and buy leather shoes and couches. What I am saying is; that choosing vinyl products as an alternative to leather, is actually causing serious harm and even death to animals!
How Vinyl In Fashion Harms Animal
When we choose PVC/vinyl fashion accessories, home-wares and stationary supplies, we are harming not only our own health, but we are exposing and harming countless other living creatures also.
Choosing PVC products means exposing ourselves and other living beings, to the Dioxins released from the Phthalates and other highly dangerous chemicals used to create PVC.
In the productions phase of PVC, it is not only the factory workers, but all living creatures in close proximity to the factory producing that are being seriously poisoned.
Therefore if a vegan chooses to buy a pair of vinyl shoes, a vinyl handbag, or a vinyl covered lounge-suite, while they may not be wearing the skin of a dead cow, they may well be wearing a synthetic leather alternative that has poisoned and caused the death of significantly, many more living creatures.
Have a read of this article on Vinyl- The Poison Plastic and how it affects people in the area around production facilities.
Also read this New Scientist Article – PVC Dust Fells Factory Mice
It is not just the production phase of vinyl that is causing animals harm, but it is also the usage phase and the disposal phase.
During it’s life-cycle, vinyl products continually off-gas poisons, known as VOC’s and we are ALL constantly being exposed to these toxins, animals included!
To my way of thinking, opting for vinyl over leather, is simply not a vegan friendly alternative.
A List of Toxic Pollutant That Are Released When PVC is Produced
- Vinyl Chloride,
- Ethylene Dichloride,
These above listed Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), cause cancer, birth defects and serious illness.
Vegan Friendly Alternatives To Toxic Vinyl
The solution to this problem is unfortunately not simple for vegans. No vegan is going to go out and buy leather, (although some vegans are okay with 2nd hand leather products). Leather is cruel and the treatments applied to animal skins to prepare them for use in fashion and furniture are almost as toxic as the chemicals used to produce vinyl.
So what are the options?
Well here are a few;
Where possible always, try to choose the following materials for your shoes, handbags, clothes and furniture.
- Organic Cotton/ Canvas – organic cotton production does not use toxic pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers.
- Hemp – LOVE HEMP!
- Panda Friendly Bamboo
- Sustainable Toxic Chemical Free Wood
- Bark Cloth – 100% organic faux leather made from the bark of trees from Uganda – See Barkcloth
- Natural Cork – I personally own the most fabulous, eco-friendly, 100% cork handbag, made in Portugal
- NATURAL! Latex/Rubber – beware of synthetic alternatives
- So many animal activist groups produce merchandise, including t-shirts with vinyl motifs and vinyl bumper and stationary stickers. They need to look for eco-friendlier options. Why not get their t-shirts screen printed with vegetable based dyes, instead of heat pressed vinyl decals.
- Organic Cotton and Buckwheat Kernels for pillow fillings are a 100% natural and super comfortable alternative.
- Opt for organic cotton mattresses, so at least you are sleeping safer. See Organature .
PU Versus PVC
PU (polyurethane) . It is by no means natural, or that safe, but… it is a lot safer than PVC.
Many furniture brands; e.g. IKEA, have phased out PVC/VINYL, put they still freely use Polyurethane foam. Because these companies have said no to PVC, the consumer is led to believe that they are getting a safer product. Unfortunately not so.
Both PVC and PU are very toxic in the production phase. They are poisoning the environment and PU is used to make FAUX leather, and foam mattresses and furniture padding.
PVC releases toxic chemicals throughout it’s lifespan and so does PU. Actually there have been studies done on houses to show how much toxic PU dust from furnishings there is floating around inside our homes. See more in this article What Kind Of Filling For Your Sofa
Toxic Vinyl Dog Toys.
Many vegans not only wear and use vinyl, but also buy their canine companions vinyl toys to chew on. Just as vinyl toys are dangerous to babies to chew on, they are also dangerous to our pets to chew on. So please avoid buying all those cute vinyl and synthetic rubber toys for your dog. There are not some great, eco-friendly, dog toy manufacturers around these days.
In a world full of consumerism there are no easy answers, but we need to be more mindful and aware that all that glitters is not gold.
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