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Archive for the ‘Animal issues’ Category

Great video isn’t it?

But what can be done?

1. Buy fish and seafood that has a low rating on the Good Fish Guide – including restaurants and takeaways if possible. The most sustainable seafood (rated 1) is listed here (not much of a list!) and the second most sustainable seafood (rated 2) is listed here. Try to avoid fish that are rated as 3, 4, and worst of all 5. (N.B. Their rating system is explained here)

2. If you are in the UK, buy fish with the MSC logo from the Marine Stewardship Council. This label ensures that the seafood ‘comes from, and can be traced back to, a sustainable fishery‘.

3. Reduce your consumption of fish, or even eliminate it entirely. Doctors tell  women to limit/avoid eating fish during their pregnancy and breastfeeding due to high mercury levels in fish that can damage the baby. But even if you aren’t pregnant, why should you take the risk of ingesting something that contains high levels of mercury? No-one can predict how individuals react to pollutants, particularly over long periods of time.

What do you think of these solutions? Are they viable? Would you do any of these actions/ do you currently do any? 

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Cat Shelter Cats

Some blurry pics of cats at the cat shelter!

Just another reminder to readers out there… if you are considering getting a pet, please adopt one from an animal shelter! It saddens me to hear of people buying cats/dogs from a breeder or pet shop. No matter how reputable the breeder, it is more ethical to support an animal shelter. All the cats below would be on the streets if it wasn’t for the cat shelter taking them in, feeding and caring for them.

This kitty, below has unusual fur colouring.

A regal-looking kitten, below.

It’s always lovely to see 2 cats snuggling.

Googly-eyed kitten.

Happy New Year!! 

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Unsustainable fishing practices indiscriminately capture marine creatures that are not intended for human consumption (known as bycatch), consequently injuring or killing them.

This Good Fish Guide allows individuals to identify fish that are ‘caught using methods that minimise damage to marine wildlife and habitats’. Mankind’s voracious appetite for fish is depleting fish stocks globally due to unsustainable fishing practices, resulting in what can only be described as marine ecocide (the mass destruction of ecosystems). Unsustainable fishing practices are those that produce bycatch, which are marine creatures that are captured in the fishing process that are not intended for human consumption. Subsequently, these creatures are tossed overboard, most of which are dead or injured. WWF says that ‘bycatch is a conservation problem of staggering global and regional significance’ because it is:

WWF campaign highlighting the plight of marine creatures caught that are not intended for human consumption

Fishing methods that produce high levels of bycatch include trawling and dredging, both of which involve scraping nets along the seabed floor, destroying complex communities of seabed creatures, leaving behind the equivalent of a wasteland.

Seabirds, dolphins, rays, porpoises, sharks, turtles… you name it, it’s bycatch.

The Good Fish Guide is a great resource because it rates fish depending on how environmentally sound they are. They are as follows:

 The only fish and seafood that are rated 1 are mussels, native and Pacific oysters and tilapia (a fish). The website also gives you full details as to why they have been rated 1, e.g. ‘there are no chemicals produced in mussel farming [making it an environmentally friendly process]’.

N.B. Although I don’t personally eat fish or seafood, I think it is a good idea to consult the Good Fish Guide to see how your favourite fish fares, and as such I am recommending it on my blog.

Do you find the Good Fish Guide a useful source of information?
Did you know about the depletion of fish stocks worldwide? 

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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 Essencesa 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.

And/or:

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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Gases produced by animal agriculture are leading contributors to global warming

Most people I come across understand why people chose to be vegetarian, but don’t know why anyone would want to give up dairy (milk, cheese, cream, yoghurts etc). One of the reasons that I don’t eat dairy is because the vast majority of dairy is produced in farms that are not slaughter-free. In other words, once the cow stops producing enough milk to be economically viable, she is sent to the slaughterhouse. In addition, in order for cows to produce milk, they must give birth to calves. Male calves are not considered economically viable, and thus are slaughtered days after birth. This is the reality of dairy farms, whether they are organic and/or free-range, and I personally do not agree with it.

I came across a website that produces slaughter-free milk in the UK. I have a tremendous amount of respect for this company/charity, because they guarantee that ‘no cow, calf or bull is ever slaughtered as part of production’ and that cows ‘graze freely on open pasture’. However, the milk is expensive (at £2.25 per litre + 50p delivery), compared to conventional milk (which is heavily subsidised by the taxpayer), and even compared to plant milks (such as oat milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, hemp milk, soy milk etc which range in price from £1-1.69 in UK supermarkets). As such, I do not think slaughter-free milk is economically viable. Additionally, I consider that particular slaughter-free milk to have ethical limitations (as recognised by the company), such as the fact that new born calves spend just their first 4-5 days with their mother (separation causes distress for both calf and mother) and are milked by machines instead of by hand.

Supposing… that you gave me some milk that was truly ethical i.e. the cow and its offspring was never slaughtered, the cow and calf spent enough time together, the cow was milked by hand and spent its retirement in a field with all of its friends etc, I would still not drink it, due to the health concerns associated with dairy and its impact on the environment (which is something I hope to elaborate on in a future post).

Giving up or even reducing dairy may seem daunting. My advice is to give up/reduce something that is easy for you personally. For example, I found it easy to give up cow’s milk by swapping it for non-dairy milk. However, I found it much harder to give up milk chocolate – it took me over a year to switch to dark chocolate.

Do you think the dairy industry could ever be ethical & economically viable? Could you envision a future where people drink non-dairy milk instead of cow’s milk? Have you ever tried non-dairy milks? If so, which is your favourite? 

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Food for Thought

I Love Animals

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Coconut oil is solid at 25°C. But what does it have to do with toothpaste?

You may be disappointed to hear that the conventional toothpastes that we all love and grew up with are owned by companies that test on animals. I have listed the toothpastes that test on animals below:

  • Aim
  • Aquafresh
  • Colgate
  • Crest
  • Listerine (I know it’s not toothpaste – it’s mouthwash)
  • Macleans
  • Oral-B
  • Sensodyne

For more info on toothpastes, please follow this link from EthicalConsumer. This website ranks products (e.g. toothpaste) according to how ethical they are in terms of environment, animals, people, politics and sustainability. EthicalConsumer have given the highest score to Green People toothpaste, which is one of my favourite toothpastes (apart from my homemade toothpaste of course!). Green People donate 10% of profits to green charities. You won’t find Green People toothpaste in supermarkets, but it can be bought online and from some health shops. I have also tried Kingfisher toothpaste and Weleda toothpaste, both of which I liked. Bear in mind that Weleda toothpaste doesn’t foam – not everyone likes that, but I personally don’t mind it (Kingfisher toothpaste and Green People toothpaste do foam). These toothpastes are more expensive than conventional ones e.g. Green People toothpaste costs £3.50 for 50ml.

Green People Toothpaste

However, I prefer my homemade toothpaste because:

🙂 It’s cheaper than ethical toothpastes, at about £1.30 for 100ml
🙂 It’s simpler than both conventional and ethical toothpastes (there are only two ingredients)
🙂 The containers that the ingredients for homemade toothpaste come in can be recycled, unlike conventional plastic toothpaste tubes

Homemade Toothpaste Recipe
1 tablespoon of raw virgin coconut oil (organic – I bought it on special offer from Planet Organic (near Goodge Street tube station, London) for £6.99 for 400ml)
1 tablespoon baking soda

Mix the two well and store in a container. Voila! Optional: you can also add a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil. The coconut oil dissolves the bacterial biofilm (a sticky substance that bacteria secrete so they can stick to your teeth), and the baking soda is slightly abrasive, which dislodges the bacteria. I also ensure to brush well, particularly the nooks and crannies that bacteria love so much. I really like the taste of my homemade toothpaste. However, it doesn’t foam, so it may take a while to get used to. I personally prefer non-foamy toothpastes. I get my teeth cleaned regularly (once every 6 months) at the dentist, who is pleased with my teeth so far.

My advice for an ethical toothpaste newbie is to experiment with different ethical toothpastes – they may cost more than conventional toothpastes, but at least you aren’t supporting a company that tests on animals, or uses ingredients that aren’t necessarily safe (I’d encourage people to google many of the ingredients in their toothpaste e.g. triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate). Alternatively, try making your own toothpaste with coconut oil. Coconut oil is a wise investment as it has lots of uses – I use it as a moisturiser, lip balm and as an ingredient for my homemade deodorant.

Would you try an ethical toothpaste? Would you try and make your own toothpaste? 

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