The industry isn’t fussy about what kind of animals they test on, be it dogs, cats, mice, rats, rabbits… Dogs and cats are either specifically bred for tests, or are pets that have been abandoned
A sale and marketing ban of new animal tested cosmetics is due to come into effect sometime in 2013 in the EU, a move that campaign groups have been passionately promoting for decades. However, thanks to the lobbying power of the cosmetics industry, there is a strong possibility of an exemption, allowing companies to continue to use animal-tested ingredients in their products. How can the industry get away with this? It is because we, the consumer, have made them rich enough to challenge laws that should have been passed and implemented long ago. We let these products into our homes and embraced them. Who didn’t grow up with Colgate? Who didn’t use Johnson’s baby shampoo as an infant? Click here for a comprehensive list of companies that test on animals.
N.B. This ban applies to the EU only – the USA and Asia have no restrictions on animal testing for cosmetics.
A fraction of companies that test on animals
Did you know that until the EU ban is fully implemented, cosmetics companies can claim that their product was not tested on animals if the final product (e.g. shampoo) was not tested on animals, though the ingredients of the product were? So be very weary when you come across ‘not tested on animals’ text on any cosmetic product. Instead, look out for the leaping bunny logo (below). This logo ‘is the only internationally recognized logo guaranteeing consumers that no animal tests were used in the development/production of any product carrying the Logo as of a fixed cut-off date’.
Leaping bunny logo on a product
As for animal testing on household products (such as bleach, washing up liquid, drain cleaners), the situation is even more dire – there is no imminent ban in the EU (although the UK government has pledged to introduce one).
The tests carried out on animals in the name of cosmetics and household products are painful and inhumane. These include tests for skin and eye irritation, where the product or ingredients in the product will be directly applied to the animal’s eye and skin, often in higher concentrations than what would be. I don’t want to go into the specifics of how horrific these tests can be – it is something that anyone who is interested can google. But consider this quote by Albert Schweitzer: ‘Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the thought’.
Are rats & mice worthless? Does the cosmetics industry and the household products industry have the right to exploit them in the name of profits?
Importantly, animal testing for cosmetics and household products is not required by law in the US and Europe. There are non-animal testing methods that these companies can use to test the safety of their products. Alternatively, the industry could use ingredients that are known to be safe on humans, instead of pursuing novel ingredients that scientists don’t know much about in terms of safety.
What can you do about this issue?
1. Replace the cosmetics and household products that test on animals with cruelty-free ones. It’s not easy. That Lynx (aka Axe) deodorant that your boyfriend/brother loves? That Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue perfume that I once loved? Herbal Essences, a shampoo you just can’t live without? You can. There are a multitude of reasons to boycott such products in any case (I hope to cover the negative environmental impact and human health impact that these products have in a future post). Replacing your cosmetics & household products requires is a bit of research and searching around supermarkets and/or health shops. If you live in the UK, you can download this list of cruelty-free approved companies for free. In my opinion, you can approach this issue by:
a) Making your own cosmetics/household products e.g. homemade toothpaste. This is my preferred method, because it is almost always cheaper and more environmentally friendly than buying ‘speciality’ cosmetics/household products. Additionally, it is quite difficult to determine if a company tests on animals – quite a lot of googling is required (this informative post outlines how to tell if a company tests on animals); as such I save myself the hassle and try to make my own cosmetics and household products.
b) Buying cosmetics and household products that haven’t been tested on animals. I buy Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap which is pricy, but it is not tested on animals (leaping bunny logo), it is organic, fairtrade, vegan, and eco (it’s ingredients are: Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Lavandin Extract, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Lavender Extract, Citric Acid, Tocopherol). I use this liquid soap as a hand soap (diluted in water), shower gel, shampoo, and I’ve even used it to hand wash clothes. I would like to make my own soap one day though!
2. Look out for petitions to sign about this issue. Lobby your MP if you are in the UK. Sign this petition where ever you are in the world to ensure that the EU sticks to its 2013 ban on animal testing for cosmetics. Petitioning can work if enough people get involved; see here and here.
Most of the text in this post comes from here.
Do you think you can stop using conventional cosmetics & household products that test on animals and replace them with cruelty free ones?
What products do you think you would find particularly hard to replace?
Please feel free to ask questions if need be. I would love to help anyone considering the switch.
(N.B. Feel free to ask questions anonymously if you prefer).
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