In April 2019 Ethical Consumer sent One Village a questionnaire and in May 2019 additional questions requiring information on the company's use of the following animal products: leather, silk, fur, merino wool, angora and down (feathers). No answers to the relevant questions were received. In May 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed One Village’s website. It found no policies on the use of these animal products. It also found that the company sold leather sandals, tassar silk cushion covers and feather-filled cushions. In May 2019, Ethical Consumer asked One Village for more information on the production processes used for these products.
The company answered that it has a policy to not introduce new leather products, "mostly because of animal welfare concerns". The sandals with leather components sold on its website were "a leftover from... before we introduced the ‘no-leather’ policy". The company continued to sell this line as it is "a traditional product [made] by some of the so-called lowest-caste people in India [and we] don’t want to stop our existing support of them". For its use of leather as a non-substantial part of its business the company lost half a mark under Ethical Consumer’s Animal Rights category.
It also lost half a mark under the Pollution and Toxics category for the following reason. Leather, as the hide of a dead animal, naturally decomposes. To prevent this decomposition the leather industry uses a cocktail of harmful chemicals to preserve leather, including trivalent chromium sulphate, sodium sulphide, sodium sulfhydrate, arsenic and cyanide. Tannery effluent also contains large amounts of other pollutants, such as protein, hair, salt, lime sludge and acids. These can all pollute the land, air and water supply, making it a highly polluting industry.
Silk was considered to be an animal rights issue, as the conventional process of harvesting silk involved heat-treating cocoons before metamorphosis occurred to prevent damage to the silk fibres. This heat treatment resulted in the deaths of the silk worm larvae inside. An alternative to conventional silk was 'peace' or 'vegetarian' silk so called because the silk is harvested after the caterpillars have developed and hatched into moths. One Village stated that only one of its cushion covers lines was made of silk. The silk used was "forest silk that is... extracted deep in the forests of Odisha according to very old traditions". The online shop described the silk as "Tasar wild silk" and "wild silk from the Orissa forests. Handloom woven in Golpalpur village." The company did not believe that heat-treatment was used to extract the silk fibres. However, Victoria and Albert documentary, "How Was It Made? Cultivating Tasar Silk", available on YouTube showed that Tasar silk is made by reeling full threads from cocoons, which requires heat-treating the cocoons. Leaving the moth to exit the cocoon naturally, as is usual in 'peace' silk, would have meant the thread could not be unwound as a whole, which produced lower-grade silk. Ethical Consumer therefore assumed the silk used was produced conventionally whereby silk worms are killed. The company therefore lost a half a mark in the Animal Rights category.
According to campaign group Four Paws, animal suffering from the live plucking and force-feeding of geese and ducks was present in the general down supply chains. In order to avoid these practices, a company was expected to adopt a standard that would trace and audit their whole supply chain, including higher-risk parent farms, to ensure such cruelties were excluded. Four Paws had found that certificates and audit reports from suppliers themselves 'do not provide sufficient guarantees that animals have a cruelty free life.' The feathers One Village used in its cushion pads were a by-product of ducks farmed for consumption in Germany and therefore did not come from ducks that were plucked alive. Force-feeding animals was prohibited under the German Animal Rights act. The company was considered to have a sufficient down-standard and was not marked down for the use of feathers under Ethical Consumer’s Animal Rights category.
One World Best Buy Questionnaire (28 April 2019)