Cruelty-free is a term that pertains to products that have not been tested on animals. This is a claim that the production of goods did not involve experiments or trials using live creatures.

More often than not, the preference for “cruelty-free” is associated with the purchase of toiletries, and cosmetics for personal or family consumption. However, is there an official technical definition for this?

You might be surprised when you learn that it veers away from the typical stereotypes.

So what do we mean by a cruelty-free standard? Let’s see how a legitimate authority such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) takes this. According to the FDA, a standard definition for the term is yet to be established. This is why claims for it can be utilized in any way companies deem fit. Typically, the objective is to attract conscientious shoppers who are willing to spend more for ethical products as your regular shoppers. However, it is important to note that cruelty-free is not synonymous with vegan.

Generally, organizations use the claim to infer that no animal was subjected to testing, or have hurt them at any capacity. Instead of explicitly saying, “not tried on creatures,” “cruelty-free” embodies it holistically. However, the term is yet to establish government-mandated guidelines. A common misconception in the U.S. is that ingredients used in beauty and cosmetic products are subjected to animal trials. While the Food and Drug Administration compels testing of such products to ensure consumer safety, it doesn’t state the requirement of utilizing animals or any other life form.

In contrast, practices in China depict the opposite picture as beauty products are mandated for animal trials. This is why ethical companies that enter the Chinese market sometimes contradict their initial practice.

Since there neither appears a standard guideline nor a proper authority for this, different brands, companies, and organizations have worked their way around the term so they can accommodate insinuations for such a claim. These guidelines technically allow them to indicate “cruelty-free” on their products:

  • A variant of the product, or an ingredient used in it could have been tested on animals, but that specific product did not.
  • The brand employed a third party to directly conduct the tests.
  • The brand or manufacturer depended on verified test results (regardless if conducted on an animal or not) from a third party.
  • The testing was conducted in a foreign land, outside where the brand is situated in (usually in China where it is a requirement).
  • The brand was forcefully mandated to conform to requirements by the market they are venturing in (again, typically in China).
  • The brand, manufacturer or organization relies on results from previous animal testing conducted by different associations. This relieves them of any direct association relating to the conduction of the test, hurting any creature, or sourcing of any animal to experiment on the possible side effects resulting from an ingredient or substance incorporated in the product. 
  • Neither the product nor any substance used in the product is free from any form of animal testing, and the brand or manufacturer has not inflicted harm or killed any life form in the process of development and production.
  • The brand or manufacturer has acquired a cruelty-free certification or form of verification. 

Though not required due to an unclear set of guidelines, and a lack of implementing authority, the last three definitions are the most moral practice for cruelty-free claims. Similarly, it implies a heightened level of social responsibility.

We have seen from our exposition the fact that the term, “cruelty-free” is very relative. It is sometimes used to depict whether brands do not make use of hides and skins in a dangerous way like using chemicals to get it, among others.

Now let’s relate this to cruelty-free boots. To give a clearer understanding on what this type of boots is, it is often referred to as vegan boots. This implies that it is non-leather, which means animal or animal-by products and materials have not been used to produce it. Furthermore, it doesn’t employ animal skin such as leather, suede, silk, shearling, or even fur. Most cruelty-free boots are made of synthetic fabrics from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC is produced through the polymerization of the vinyl chloride monomer. The process begins by mixing compounds considered as initiators that are blended into the beads. The blend separates to begin an extreme chain response. Regular initiators incorporate dioctanoyl peroxide and dicetyl peroxydicarbonate, the two of which have delicate O-O securities. A few initiators start the response quickly yet not rapidly, and different initiators have a contrary impact. The combination of two unique initiators is frequently used to give a uniform pace of polymerization. After the polymer has developed in multiple times, the short polymer accelerates inside the bead of VCM, and the polymerization proceeds as dissolvable swollen particles. The type of PVC used to make cruelty-free bags is Polyurethane (PU). This is then incorporated to a cotton backing. These types of boots are mostly plastics, and are flexible by nature. Though there are many other instances where you produce leather vinyl and other PVC materials, they are not stereotyped as plastics. These plastics are used to make a variety of boots, plastic boots, and others.

In making cruelty-free handbags, we also utilize the same PVC material, polyurethane (PU). Badymyon is a leading brand for cruelty-free handbags. They use PVC materials ranging from silk, leather, plastics, and clear vinyl bags. Similarly, this brand does not make use of animal hides and skin to produce their handbags. Instead, they utilize synthetic products like those mentioned earlier. The fact is that most fashion bags of recent times now utilize these cruelty-free (synthetic) materials.

This article has exposed you to what cruelty-free means. We have seen it as an alternative to animal by-products. We have seen how they are utilized in the production of boots and handbags.