Most of us probably spend a fair bit of time thinking about money – how to make it, how to spend it – but do we actually know what money is made from?
Australia was the first country in the world to use plastic polymer banknotes, but what most of us don’t realise is that they also contain a small amount of animal by-product.
It’s been revealed that Aussie banknotes contain approximately one per cent tallow – rendered animal fat from cows, pigs and sheep – as a “slip agent” to prevent static and friction.
Tallow has actually been used in the production of banknotes since the late 1990s, but when the British five-pound note introduced the ingredient last year there were widespread protests from vegans and vegetarians.
It’s not only Australia and the UK using tallow in money, as a video by social commentators Project Nightfall reveals.
Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, and 20 other countries also use it.
The video, posted recently to Project Nightfall’s Facebook page, is prefaced with the warning: “This video is not friendly to vegans, Muslims, Hindus or Jews.”
Since being posted the video has been shared more than 5000 times and viewed 63,000 times, with more than 700 people commenting.
Most were horrified by the idea that traces of animal fat were used in banknotes, but others were more open to the idea.
“That is really horrible to hear,” one person wrote.
“But we can all limit cruelty of animals in our daily life by going vegan and using cruelty-free products. It’s too easy.”
“Isn’t it better to just use natural animal parts rather than creating synthetic versions of it?” another person wondered.
“I know it’s bad but you need to think of it another [way], they are finding different uses for the leftover animals instead of wasting it when they can make full use of all of it,” another person wrote.
Tallow is used in numerous everyday household products including soap, candles, moisturisers and plastic bags, as well as many items of clothing and even mobile phones.
“Luckily, there are vegan cosmetics, soaps, etc.,” one Facebook user noted.
“Phones and this money wouldn’t have such alternatives though (apart from using credit cards whenever possible).
“Hopefully, things will change soon.”
Despite continued protests in the UK by animal rights activists, there is no plan to stop using the animal by-product in the five-pound note.
“Any of the vegans who don’t want their money due to this, just send it my way,” one person wrote on Facebook under the Project Nightfall video.
“I will dispose of it properly for you.”