Seems like 2012 is already the year of repeats; debates long-considered settled are rearing their contentious heads once again. From birth control making headlines, to the prevalence of fur at fashion week, its seems like it's the Revenge of the Past coming back to haunt us.
And so it is with animal testing, which for many of us who love both animals and makeup, is another issue that's come full circle. Turns out all that the time spent in the late '80s and '90s signing petitions was just a stay of execution for the nefarious practice of testing "beauty" products on defenseless animals (like the bunnies above; rabbits are used for testing because they are such docile creatures).
While I always hear people disparaging the group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is once again on the front lines, making sure that we all know this is happening. (I would argue that PETA and Greenpeace have done more for animals in the past 20 years than all the other animal-advocacy groups put together, but that's fodder for another post.) But like any old story with a modern twist, this one involves China.
Turns out that currently, the Chinese government requires animal testing for beauty products sold in China, and PETA reports that while Mary Kay has been trying to work with the government to come up with new testing solutions for cosmetics that don't involve animals, Estee Lauder and Avon have gone along with the government requirements without complaint. Since the companies are all currently doing animal testing, none of these companies' products can bear the "cruelty free" designation (indicated by the leaping bunny logo), and have been removed — after long standing — from PETA's "Don't Test on Animals" list to the "Do Test" list.
What to do? (Besides pull your hair out in frustration and swear a lot? No, please don't.) Of course it's always a good idea to let your thoughts be known to companies — so all that consumer energy can push them to do the right thing. Sometimes employees want to make changes from within an organization but are stymied by upper management, and they need consumers to help them.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you'll probably have to stop buying these companies' products. (Buying beauty and personal care products from small, all-natural, health-conscious brands is a great way to "protest" too — while smelling better than ever. This is my choice!) But in terms of actually correcting this problem, the solution lies in training Chinese scientists and getting them up to date with non-animal safety testing. Turns out PETA's on that, too.
From a PETA news release: "PETA is financially supporting the efforts of the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), which is putting together a coalition of corporate experts, providing training for scientists in China in the use of non-animal test methods, and working with officials there to promote the acceptance of non-animal methods that are used in the U.S., the European Union, and much of the world."
What do you think is the best form of protest to help animals? Signing petitions, boycotting products, gabbing about issues in social media, or buying from ethical companies instead?
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