The Bedroom. A haven for rest, well-being and sensuality; the place to which we retreat at the end of the day for comfort and peaceful slumber.
Isn’t there a terribly sad irony in the fact that so many bedroom products are made through animal suffering? To the poor beings who are horribly exploited to manufacture our deluxe bedroom textiles, feelings of comfort and rest are a completely foreign concept.
It may seem the most costly area of the home to veganise, but a few long-term investments are definitely worth the peaceful sleep you will enjoy, once you know you are not supporting the shocking secrets of the bedroom textile industry.
Waking-up to the truth about bedding
How much pain and anguish could amass in one bed? It’s not something many people give much thought to, since the animal products are veiled from sight by pretty sheets and pillowcases.
The bedroom was certainly the last place in my new, veganised life that I turned my attention to and I have to admit it was an issue that very slowly faded into focus. After two years of eating, washing and wearing vegan, I’m only now in the process of removing decades old, feather packed pillows from my bedroom.
What is hiding in your Mattress?
Let’s begin with the biggest challenge for a cruelty-free bedroom by discovering what could be hiding in your standard mattress… and it’s not bed bugs!
Casein, wool and silk
Latex in mattresses often contains casein, a protein that makes up around 80% of cow’s milk. While this is a protein that finds its way into a baffling myriad of products and food additives, it makes even less sense why it should be needed in a mattress!
Look for mattresses made with natural cotton fibers; mattresses made with buckwheat are also increasing in popularity, and buckwheat is completely biodegradable as well, so no more landfill guilt!
Another great thing about natural mattresses made by conscientious companies is that they don’t contain harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and petroleum-based products, which can aggravate allergies and pose significant health risks.
The secrets inside your pillows, duvets and other bedding
Feathers and down
I was shocked and horrified to learn the violent truth of feather procuration. The majority of feathers and down in most bedding is a by-product of ducks and geese that have been slaughtered for food, but in factory farms in Hungary, China and Poland it is still commonplace for feathers to be ripped from live birds. In these countries PETA http://www.peta.org.uk/ estimates that around 45% of feathers and 50% of down is live-plucked from these animals before they’re eventually slaughtered for human consumption. You can only imagine the horror of such an existence.
The live plucking of birds is now illegal in the US and in most European countries, but it is usually impossible to identify whether the feathers in your bedding came from live plucked birds, and live plucked or not, the birds would have endured suffering and a premature death.
Exposing the down industry
In 2009 a news program broadcasted in Sweden entitled Kalla Fakta (Cold Facts) revealed that 50 – 80% of the world’s feather and down was taken from live-plucked birds. This hugely exceeded the stated claims of 1-3% from the industry, however when Ikea conducted an independent verification of the figures, they sadly turned out to be accurate.
If, like me you find this to be completely appalling, there are plenty of comfortable and kind alternatives to feathers which you can get, that consist of vegan stuffing such as buckwheat, millet hull, hemp, bamboo or cotton.
If you’re interested in supporting the fair trade industry and continual jobs for rainforest communities, try Kapok Pillows who harvest their material from the ceiba tree, a sustainable source, which needs no chemicals, cultivation or irrigation. As well as being super comfortable, their pillows are non-toxic, hypoallergenic and resistant to mold and mildew. For organic cotton and hemp bedding try companies like Rawganique.
The important thing when shopping for bedding is to be vigilant and if the contents of the product aren’t made clear, thoroughly check with the manufacturer whether there are any non-vegan materials in the product. In fact, approaching companies to enquire about whether their products are vegan-friendly is a great way to accelerate the shift towards a compassionate future; the more it is in demand, the more companies will be obliged to relinquish frankly despicable and out-dated methods of sourcing materials for their products, the power lies in our hands (and beds!).