Well, I have given this a lot of thought during the course of this year as I have shunned certain products and brands due to their connection with animal testing. I have been using an umbrella approach, eliminating all brands which do direct testing as well as those owned by companies that do test. It was becoming increasingly difficult, when I had my light bulb moment.
How you choose a brand and on what principles is highly personal, but I was staring at a Body Shop advertisement and my muddled thoughts formed a neat, logical line in my mind. I have been avoiding the Body Shop because they, like Kiehl’s and several other brands, are owned by L’Oreal. But I have finally decided that this is like blaming the child for the sins of their father.
The Body Shop has always stood for natural, ethical, fairly traded products and has championed a healthy body image. They are and have always been against animal testing and the use of animal ingredients. Why would I stop supporting a really positive brand like this just because it is owned by some scumbags at the top of the chain?
Most important for me is that the Body Shop do not export their products to China, because they refuse to compromise on their firm anti-animal testing stance. I wholeheartedly support this. You need to look at each brand on an individual basis, and to me the issue of the Chinese market is the real deal-breaker. I happily stocked up on Kiehl’s, another L’Oreal owned brand, at the end of last year because they claimed to be “against animal testing”. Maybe in theory they are, but in reality they are selling like crazy in China, which means they are torturing some animals somewhere along the line in order to boost profits.
It can be argued (and often is argued) that by buying products from a particular brand you are filling the coffers of the parent company, the money then being used to fund animal testing for their other brands. This could be true, but I believe this is a personal choice. Some people also want their products to be completely vegan. I am wearing leather boots as I type this, and I am okay with the fact, so it would be hypocritical of me to demand vegan skincare.
So I have finally drawn my personal line in the sand. I don’t require my products to be completely natural, although this is nice, and I can handle animal ingredients, although I consider it a bonus if a product line is completely plant based. I am also willing to buy brands owned by companies which do test on animals, provided that a) the individual brand does not test their products on animals, and b) the individual brand is not sold in China.
I am not interested in brands that state they do not test “unless required by law” because there is no law stating that these companies need to export to unethical markets in the first place. If the law in a particular country tells you to do something immoral and unethical, you can avoid breaking the law by just staying the hell out of that country.
Online resources like PETA and Leaping Bunny are useful, but one needs to bear in mind that different criteria are used to determine animal testing status. You need to decide what factors are important to you and what you are prepared to accept.
So I won’t be using the umbrella approach and tarring all companies in one stable with the same brush. I am going to make my own informed decision on a brand-by-brand basis. Now we just need companies to be more transparent, governments to make better policy decisions, and as the human race we need to stop and think a bit more often.