Is it possible to buy cruelty-free paint? And what does it mean in this context? I found it hard to imagine how a manufacturer can be cruel to animals when making paint. Apparently, paint can be cruelty-free and therefore paint can be cruel to animals. The cruelty can happen in two ways (a) testing for toxic components in manufacture and (b) if the paint gets on animals in use in people’s homes or industrially and toxic components cause harm to the animals.
However, a Sunday Times article (April 2, 2032) tells me that the idea of “cruelty-free” paint is often meaningless because “no paint manufacturers test any products for household use on animals”. That point is contradicted by a couple of websites I have visited (see below).
Some animal components
For instance, there is a website owned by a paint manufacturer called GRAPHENSTONE eco-paints which discusses animal cruelty in the paint industry (briefly). They say that most paints on the market “are not vegan-friendly”. For instance, they say a common binding agent is a primary protein in milk called Casein. And shellac is a resin which is secreted by the Lac bug. It is used to add shine and durability.
And from cows there is ox gall which is used as a wetting agent (ox gall is “bitter fluid secreted by the liver of an ox, used in paints and coloring”). And some paint pigments contain animal bone or bone derivatives. And the website Green Matters tells me that some paints contains beeswax.
This tells me that some paints contain substances from animals but it doesn’t mean that the manufacturers are abusing animals. Although, this website states that “paints are not made with animal products per se”. That seems to be incorrect because of what I stated above. But they do go on to state that “some [paints] are tested on animals or made in a way that contributes to cruelty against animals”.
Green Matters state that sometimes animal testing is carried out on paints to test the toxic ingredients in some paint products. They describe these chemicals as unstable components. So, what are they?
Well, potentially there are lots of toxic substances in paints. In fact, most commercial paint available to buy in stores are full of hazardous substances including volatile organic compounds. Water-based latex paints contain vinyl resins which are linked to health problems. The volatile organic compounds are included to help particles in the paint disperse as well as bind together. They cause the paint to smell. The fumes can trigger allergies and asthma attacks and even nervous system disorders.
The Green Matters website also tells me that paint can be tested on animals by putting the paint on the animal’s skin. Sometimes they forced the animal to eat or drink the paint to see what happens! So, it does happen according to this website.
What makes paint cruelty-free? It is a product which doesn’t contain any animal products and which is not tested on animals. They are sometimes referred to as vegan pains.
The best vegan pains using natural plant-based binding agents instead of animal products such as legumin. They mention one paint manufacturer called Benjamin Moore which they say is cruelty free. Although they can’t confirm this! The manufacturer I refer to above, GRAPHENSTONE, say that their paints are vegan. This is a UK based company in Norfolk.
There are many different types of natural paint and some water-based natural paints are made from lime, milk, clay, egg, flour and chalk. And natural oil based paints can be made from linseed oil. These paints are four basic components: a pigment, solvent, binder and optionally a filler.
Recycling or landfill?
It might be worth adding that no paints are planet friendly because only 2% of leftover paint is recycled or reused. In the UK 320 million litres of paint is sold annually and an estimated 50 million L is chucked away into landfill. It cannot be said that paint is environmentally friendly.
Although, a couple of women in Leeds, UK, Cat Hyde and Kate Moree founded and run an organisation called Seagulls which reuses any paint which has not gone off. They mix it into bespoke colours and sell it. They also clean and recycle the old tins.