This year, 2018, I finally went cruelty-free with my makeup and skincare. It’s been hard, especially because I have a long way to go considering the fact I need to use up everything I purchased that’s not cruelty-free, but I’ll get there.
I won’t end there though, there’s still more, such as toothpaste. Yes, they test toothpaste on animals! There’s so much I need to clean my rooms of so I can go completely cruelty-free, that’s why I’m thankful for websites such as Ethical Bunny that can aid me along the way.
I’m thankful that the CEO of Ethical Bunny was willing to answer some questions for me. This article isn’t meant to shame anyone or guilt trip people, we only want to educate.
So, thank you again to the CEO of this wonderful website for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk to me. After the interview, please visit her website, which will be linked below. Now, on to the interview!
1. What made you decide to go cruelty-free? Did you use products that weren’t cruelty-free before?
Going cruelty-free was an easy decision for me since I have been an animal lover my entire life. Just like most people, I grew up using all the generic animal tested beauty, household, and personal care products. I was simply blissfully unaware of animal testing.
One summer in high school I had an opportunity to travel to Wyoming and volunteer at an animal sanctuary called Kindness Ranch. This incredible non-profit rescued and took care of animals that had used in product testing and were severely “damaged” physically and psychologically. I witnessed dozens of dogs, beagles specifically, who were blind, crippled, had burn marks on their skin and were unable to bark (they had their voice boxes taken out at birth so they can’t make noise while they’re being exploited for the testing of a toxic chemical or substance). I witnessed all sorts of other animals with similar injuries. I took care of them, got to know them and got to learn about how they were treated in scientific experiments.
That’s when I finally made the connection between animal testing and my own choices as a consumer. I realized that my entire life I’ve been using products that were tested on animals and if I want to do something about this problem I have to start with changing my own shopping habits. I threw away my toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, cleaning supplies, makeup and skincare first thing when I got home from Wyoming and spent hours researching and looking for cruelty-free alternatives to everything I had been using. Animal testing is the kind of issue that most people don’t care about until they witness it or get to spend time with the victims. It’s the kind of issue that most people, unfortunately, still aren’t educated about.
2. What made you decide to start your wonderful website? Have you been able to help get the word out about how barbaric product testing on animals is to people who otherwise wouldn’t have known?
Throughout the years of me using cruelty-free products and pointing out to friends that some of the products they were using were tested on animals, I recognized that animal testing is a very taboo topic people don’t want to get into. If you don’t see it happening, it doesn’t happen… right? Unfortunately, that’s the mindset many people operate under when they are confronted with the reality of animal testing.
Ethical Bunny began as a combination of several passions. First of all, I wanted to educate consumers about animal testing and create a useful resource for them that they can count on for discovering new brands and products. Secondly, I grew up in a very entrepreneurial family and I wanted to somehow show my support for small businesses and encourage beauty consumers to purchase from indie beauty brands rather than large corporations. Thirdly, I was studying marketing in college and I wanted to get some real world experience with what it’s like to start my own project/blog/website and try to grow it and promote it with absolutely no money and no support from anyone else. My love for animals, my desire to support small businesses and my interest in digital and social media marketing were the perfect combination of skills/passions I needed to start Ethical Bunny.
Throughout the time I’ve been running Ethical Bunny, I have had a positive impact on so many people. I get messages on a daily basis from beauty consumers who thank me for opening their eyes to animal testing and changing their shopping habits to fit their moral values. Of course, it was a rough start at first, trying to build the website and create a platform people can trust as a reliable resource, but the more I worked and the more time I’ve put into the website, the more positive feedback I received and the more consumers I’ve influenced. I’m incredibly grateful and fortunate to be able to do what I love and make a real difference!
3. Why do you think some makeup brands, like the Sephora Label, have recently stopped being cruelty-free?
Money. Without a doubt, money is the reason why so many large companies still test on animals despite the ample number of cruelty-free alternatives that are more accurate and more ethical. Animal testing is already illegal in over 30 countries including all of Europe and countries like India and Norway, but there is one huge cosmetics market that requires animal testing on a large number of products – China. Companies like Sephora sell their products in retail stores in China and these products have to be tested on animals by law.
Now one would argue that the Chinese government is to blame for this and we shouldn’t be boycotting companies that aren’t cruelty-free but I completely and wholeheartedly disagree. Every single company has a choice. Every single company that tests on animals has the option to not test on animals by simply refusing to sell their products in China. Since so many companies have chosen their wallets over their conscience and morals, it’s now our responsibility as consumers to tell them that we disapprove. I mean sure, we can write to Chinese policymakers, and I do that as well, but in my years of experience, none of these letters have led to any reform. We go shopping multiple times a week and by not purchasing products from companies that exploit animals we are having a much greater impact on the issue of animal testing than we know. Every dollar a consumer spends is a vote, so consumers need to start taking their votes seriously and being much more selective about which companies that choose to support.
4. How much hope do you have that the bill will pass in which animal testing will be banned in 2020?
If we’re talking about a global ban on animal testing, it’s unlikely it’ll happen by 2020. As much as I want to be an optimist, animal testing has been the common practice in the cosmetics industry for many decades and it’s not likely that it’ll completely stop by 2020. Many countries have already banned animal testing and the European Union has even banned the sale of products tested on animals in other countries (i.e. China) but these laws have loopholes. Companies like L’Oreal, that test their cosmetics on animals in China, are still able to sell their products in Europe despite the law because there’s so many ways to get around it.
For instance, just this month, California passed the Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act which claims to make the sale of any products tested on animals illegal within state borders. This law, much like the law implemented by the European Union, has loopholes. It still allows companies to test on animals in China and then sell those products in California while falsely claiming that they are cruelty-free. Let me be clear: if any company tests ANY products on animals in ANY country, they are not cruelty-free. L’Oreal claims to be cruelty-free because they pay the Chinese authorities to test on animals for them. That, however, doesn’t make it any more ethical and profits from the sale of L’Oreal products will still, inevitably, go towards animal testing. It’s like claiming that someone is innocent of animal abuse when they pay their buddy to abuse an animal for them. It’s not how our legal system should work and it’s certainly not an excuse to purchase products from that company.
The only way I see animal testing for cosmetics becoming illegal worldwide is if China bans animal testing instead of making it a requirement. China is by far the biggest reason why so many companies still test on animals and without a change in China’s legislature, it’s unlikely that animal testing will stop anytime soon. Another issue is that laws cannot have exceptions and loopholes. While testing on animals in California is no longer legal, most cosmetics companies are testing their products on animals elsewhere and still selling them in California. Banning animal testing in a certain country or state is important, but it’s just as important to ban the sale of products that are tested on animals anywhere in the world at any point during the production of a product. Right now, laws are too lenient, not regulated enough and have too many loopholes. We’ve made a lot of progress but there’s still a long road ahead of us.
5. How can we as the customers stop animal testing? How else can we get the word out?
The way the market works is very simple – supply and demand. Companies that test on animals provide consumers with a certain supply and by buying this supply the consumers are creating a demand for it. Therefore the only way to stop animal testing is to stop creating demand for products that are tested on animals and be vocal about it.
The first step In any social reform is education. People need to become aware of animal testing through reading books, watching documentaries or even volunteering at sanctuaries that rescue animals from laboratories. Without proper knowledge of the issue, one cannot become a strong advocate against it.
The second step is to change our consumerism habits and stop purchasing products that aren’t cruelty-free. The easiest indicator that a product is cruelty-free is a certification or logo on the packaging. There’s three certifications that a product can obtain – PETA, Leaping Bunny or CCF. Choose Cruelty-Free is an Australian organization that certifies products to be cruelty-free. PETA and Leaping Bunny are more global but Leaping Bunny is significantly more reliable and well regulated than PETA. If a product is Leaping Bunny or CCF certified, it has to be cruelty-free. Otherwise, most small businesses don’t test on animals because they simply cannot afford this outrageously expensive practice. Shopping for all of your beauty supplies and household products from a small business almost always guarantees that the products will be cruelty-free.
The third step after a consumer is fully educated about animal testing and buys exclusively cruelty-free products is to advocate and be vocal about their disapproval of animal testing. Social media is without a doubt an amazing platform for advocacy because you can reach a large audience of people with a few taps of a keyboard. I use social media for a lot of my advocacy and it’s the best way I’ve found to communicate with people who are interested in learning about the issue. Other than social media, attending protests in person or even hosting your own peaceful protests outside of MAC stores and the stores of other unethical companies can be pretty impactful. Writing to politicians urging them to weigh in on the matter and advocate against animal testing is also very, very important. Policymakers need to know what matters to the people they represent.
6. Are there any charities who give back to animals that you are passionate about?
As I previously mentioned, my time volunteering at Kindness Ranch in Wyoming has had a huge impact on me so it’s a non-profit organization I strongly support. You can visit their website to learn more about donating and volunteering (http://www.kindnessranch.org/). Another amazing animal sanctuary is called Life After Labs (http://newlifeanimalsanctuary.org/) and they are based in Lake Elsinore, California. This sanctuary offers a permanent home to pigs, cats, dogs, rabbits, rats, mice and other animals that have suffered in the name of vivisection. They are working towards being able to accommodate non-human primates (such as monkeys) that are used in medical research. Both of these non-profit animal sanctuaries are incredible advocates against animal testing and do so much positive work for the animals that suffered in laboratories.
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