What Is Vegan Interior Design?

More Than A Diet

The principal is simple: animals are sentient beings and not ours to exploit and abuse. We can eat perfectly well (and be healthier) without animal products in our diet. We can use products that don’t involve the repetitive torture of animals to prove their safety (try natural vs chemical). We can clothe ourselves, thankfully, with an ever-evolving array of materials. And the same goes for “clothing” our homes, offices, and cars.

Don’t Kill

Avoid decorating your home with dead animals, like skins and furs – just say “no” to the leather couch, the shearling rug, or the rabbit throw. Contrary to popular belief, leather is not a by-product of the meat industry, as it is a much more profitably industry than the meat industry. And FYI: leather comes from more than just cows…

While it may be hard to relate to the suffering of the silk worm, the numbers are astounding – about 3,000 deaths per yard of silk fabric. Choose other natural materials instead.

Don’t Abuse

Down and feathers are mostly live-plucked, not scooped up from fluffy enclosures of shedding fowl. There are alternatives! Angora is similarly ripped out of rabbits by hand. These practices are extraordinarily cruel; you can imagine how upset and injured your cat would be if you did that to her.

What about shearing? Sadly, really any profit-driven industry involving animals is bound to be cruel (e.g. puppy mills). In the interest of efficiency, the wellbeing of sheep, alpaca, and goats is not a priority in the production of wool, alpaca, and cashmere. Manhandled and mutilated in the attempt to subdue them, these terrified animals often wind up badly injured with broken legs and cuts during shearing.

“By-Products”

Sometimes animal products are hiding in unexpected places – in the glues used to produce some plywood and furnishings; in detergents, dyes, and softening agents used to process certain fabrics; in most paints (!) and other finishes.

The Good News

There are cruelty-free alternatives for all of these products, and we will get into those more specifically in future blog entries.

The good news is that by demanding these alternatives, we can promote the development and use of animal-free products for the benefit of animals, humans, and the environment.

There is a lot of fascinating innovation happening right now, and interest in vegan interior design is growing!

Your Sustainable Home

The Bad News

The home furnishings industry has a surprisingly big impact on the environment. Deforestation, manufacturing, and shipping all contribute to global warming. You may not know, however, that the toxic pollutants that affect the greater environment also affect the indoor air quality of your home and the health and wellness of your family. There are loads of toxins in your home; they are in the finishes on your walls and floors, in the adhesives in your cabinets and furniture, in your rugs, in your fabrics, in your cushions, pillows and mattresses. Yikes! What to do?

Ask These 4 Questions

Where did it come from?

Was it sustainably and ethically sourced? Manufactured in a facility that is energy-efficient and recycles waste and water? Shipped locally or shipped across the world?

What is it made of?

Is the material natural or recycled? Does it contain plastics, glues, pesticides, herbicides, fire-retardants, anti-microbials, or stain-resistant chemicals that will off-gas harmful fumes? Is it cruelty-free?

How long will it last?

Sustainable design requires that products be long-lasting, ideally inheritable. So, what is the quality of the materials, construction, and finish?

Where will it end up?

Once the product has reached the end of its useful life, will it degrade naturally or can it be recycled? Or will it end up as landfill?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

We all know our “3 Rs”, right? There are lots of ways to incorporate these practices. Antique and vintage furnishings are the ultimate in sustainability. New furnishings made with reclaimed materials are all the richer for the stories embedded in those materials. Recycled and reclaimed materials of all kinds can be used in a variety of ways, in furniture, kitchen counters, carpets, textiles, and cushion fill. And of course, when we’re done with our things, we can donate them for reuse or carefully recycle them to the extent possible.

The Good News

Everything we do, regardless of how small, matters!

Now is actually a very exciting time, as people in all kinds of industries have rallied to drive innovation to combat climate change. Manufacturers and designers in the furnishings business are working together to drive innovation toward more eco-friendly practices and materials. By making informed choices, you can have a fully sustainable and truly gorgeous home!