Like the food we eat and the clothes we wear, the houses we live in also reflect our values. The materials used in the construction, decoration, upkeep and maintenance of the house and of things around the house all bear the stamp of our choices, or may be of our ignorance of the origin of things.

No person with any claim to leading an ethical life would think of decorating his house with ill-gotten wealth. People conscious of the impact of our life-styles upon the environment would not (it is hoped) think it proper to decorate their houses with too much wood, especially that obtained from virgin forest. Much the same philosophy applies to decorating one’s house with animal-derived material or even living creatures like a fish tank.

A tiger-skin adorning a wall in someone’s house would be in shocking taste these days, with everyone aware of the rate and the manner of decimation of this animal from our jungles. But, it is not only wild animals that have their lives taken away to become the decoration piece of some vain person’s house. Common domestic animals of the streets and fields are the much larger suppliers (against their wills, needless to say) of household materials compared to their now-rare cousins living in the jungle. In addition to being sources of material, they are also used to test household products. We therefore present facts about the exploitation of animals for objects found around our houses and to remove the veil of the aforementioned ignorance, so that we may keep our house as free of cruelty to animals as we keep our food and clothing.

Perhaps the most cruel, but luckily no longer least known, method of obtaining any product from an animal is the method by which hog bristles are obtained from the pig to make paint brushes. The pig is forcibly held immobile underfoot by one person while its hair is painfully yanked out by another person, the pig all the while in full consciousness, screaming in pain. All kinds of brushes are made of bristles obtained from the pig, but the most common are the brushes that are used for painting walls.

Some times an animal substance is only a part of the finished product. To cite three examples: a wooden statue of Buddha with bone for teeth, upholstery material containing a mixture of cotton and silk, and a marble vase with a shellac embossed design.

The cost of an item should never be the criteria for judging whether it is of animal origin or not. Very cheap stuff can very well contain fur, silk, or leather. For example: Chinese made cat and dog fur knickknacks, and leather mobile cases.

Item Possible animal content
Ash-trays Shells
Batteries Crustacean shells
Bedsheets, pillow-cases,
bedspreads, blankets
Silk, wool, fur
Bio-plastics, e.g. drinking straws Chitin/Chitosan derived from shells
Brushes Animal bristles/hair
Candles Beeswax, scale insect wax, tallow, scent
Carpets Wool, silk


China vases, flower-pots Bone, shells, shellac



Bone, shells

Cocktail/party picks Shells
Crockery, China, Bone China, Fine China Bone
Curios, ornamental items, fancy items,
key chains, paper weights, knick-knacks
Silk, shells, pearls, coral, beeswax, wool, leather, shellac, bone, horn, skulls, ivory, butterflies, insects, feathers, feathers, porcupine quills, fur, animal tails/nails/hair/heads, etc.

Silk, wool

Doilies Bone beads, pearls, shells
Fans, brooms, anti-static dusters

Feathers, wool

Figurines, carvings, in-lay work,
decorative door-handles and knobs
Ivory, bone, horns, skulls, shells, pearls,
coral, shellac
Knife- and cutlery-handles Bone, horn, shells
Lamps and lamp-shades Bone, horn, shells, fur, porcupine quills
Mirror- and picture-frames Bone, shells, leather, porcupine quills
Natural sponge Living sea organisms
Paint on walls, doors, etc. Animal fat, oil or various substances from shrimps, crabs, molluscs, sea snails, etc., choona, hog-hair painting brushes
Polished flooring Beeswax, shellac, scale insect wax
Quilts, duvets, pillows, cushions and
their covers
Eiderdown or down (feathers), silk, wool
Sealing wax (red and black) Shellac, scale insect wax, beeswax, bone
Sofa sets and chairs Leather, wool, silk
Suitcases, hand luggage, jewellery
cases/boxes, laptop cases, mobile cases, wardrobes, etc.

Leather, silk, wool

Tapestry, upholstery, car seats
and accessories
Wool, silk, leather
Trays Bone, shells, shellac, scale insect wax

Silk, shells, wool, leather, feathers, fur

Trophies Mounted wild animals’ heads, stuffed creatures, skulls, antlers, horns, tusks, skins, pelts
Wall hangings Wool, silk, leather, fur, pelts, feathers, butterflies, insects, porcupine quills
Wind-chimes Shells, leather
Wooden furniture and fixtures

Polishes containing shellac, scale insect wax, beeswax

Page last updated on 22/06/23