Supporting Cruelty-Free Companies: Part 1

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October 8, 2013

We know that taking care of our planet is of utmost importance as we pursue our lives as “good humans.” But taking care of each other and the animals we share the planet with is equally critical.

Two years ago, I made several New Years resolutions: maintain a vegetarian lifestyle, eliminate harsh chemicals from my home, make every effort to purchase and consume only cruelty-free products, and drastically reduce waste and clutter in my home. Today, I’d like to focus specifically on supporting cruelty-free companies.

First, let’s define what I mean by “cruelty-free.” I consider a company to be cruelty-free if they have taken a stand against animal testing and are steadfast in their commitment. Some people do not see the harm in animal testing.

“What’s so bad about putting lipstick on bunny rabbits? That actually sounds kind of cute, right? Bunny makeover!”

No. Animal testing is not about pampering bunnies with nice lotions and powders. When labs test on animals, it is an extremely painful, stressful, and sometimes fatal experience. Bunnies are restrained and their eyes are clamped open while chemicals are slowly dripped into their eyes, burning them so badly that they sometimes go blind. Other times, the bunny is so stressed that it struggles to free itself from the restraints, causing it to break its own neck. This is not like the time you painted your dog’s toenails. This is torture.

The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC) Leaping Bunny Program
The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC) Leaping Bunny Program

Throughout the past two years, I’ve realized much like the word “vegetarian,” “cruelty-free” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. For example, salmon is not an acceptable vegetarian meal option, despite caterers trying to assure me otherwise. And despite its claims, Clinique is not a cruelty-free cosmetics company. Clinique is owned by the non-cruelty-free corporation Estee Lauder, which also owns Aveda and Origins.

Similarly, Tom’s of Maine is partially owned by Colgate-Palmolive, Burt’s Bees is owned by Clorox Co., and Aveeno is owned by Johnson & Johnson. Adding to the confusion is that companies will brand items as “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals,” referring only to the finished product and not to individual ingredients that are tested on animals. Further misleading customers, some companies claim they don’t test on animals despite the fact that they contract other companies to do the testing for them.

For some, this is merely semantics. But I prefer to take a conservative definition of “cruelty-free” when deciding which companies are worthy of my money. For this reason, it has been challenging for me to find cruelty-free versions of certain medicine cabinet essentials. Have you ever tried to purchase dental floss that isn’t made by Johnson & Johnson or Proctor and Gamble? It’s not easy. But don’t fear. It can be done. The same goes for toothbrushes, toothpaste, eye-drops, face wash, and moisturizer.

Watch for the next post in this series for recommendations on how you can cultivate a cruelty-free medicine cabinet of your own.

Watch this video: Taking the Leap to Cruelty-Free Products

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