Materials We Use
Our objective at Helen Milan is to reduce our reliance on petroleum-based plastics and synthetic “faux” materials. We use plant-based products where possible, as well as animal byproducts like bristle, hair, wool, leather and beeswax. While not all of our products are vegan, the companies we source them from are ethical and highly regulated. Our philosophy is, if ethically sourced, these products are better for the environment than plastic and synthetics.
Our main supplier of natural fiber brushes buys bristle and hair from a Swedish importer that they have worked with for over 50 years. Their horse and goat hair comes from north-eastern China and Mongolia. Some horsehair is combed out, while goats are shorn much like sheep. Bristle and hair comes from farm animals and is harvested at different times on the farm – the hair is then sold to makers who process horse/goat hair. Hair is also taken from horses that have died from old age or natural causes. These farm animals are not bred or slaughtered for their meat and there is no suffering involved from obtaining the hair.
Our Swedish boar bristle products come from a company that breeds a type of wild boar (Sus Scorfa). Located in the Chinese highlands (Sichuan/ Himalaya), the Sus Scorfa live at an altitude of 2500 meters and higher. They are bred for their meat in that region and the bristle is a byproduct from slaughter. The animals are housed outdoors, not in a factory farm or large-scale production.
Our German partners also use boar bristle for many of the nail brushes and other strong bristle brushes we sell. This boar bristle is a byproduct from animals raised for their meat in other countries.
We understand that there are people who do not want to use bristle, hair, silk, leather, wool or beeswax, and for those customers, we try to source completely vegan products where we can (our coconut fiber brooms and bassine, union blend and Tampico products are among our vegan offerings). We embrace new technologies and add plant-based alternatives to our assortment as they are developed.
A note on wood: We source all of our wood and natural fiber brushes from countries where sustainable forestry practices are highly regulated. Our Swedish products are made from FSC-certified Swedish hardwoods. The wood for our German brushes, mainly beech, comes from Germany, Slovenia and Slovakia. As EU members, the countries we work with are committed to sustainable forestry practices. This means forests cannot be clear-cut and new trees need to be planted to replace those that are felled.