THE ART OF CRUELTY-FREE
THE ART OF CRUELTY-FREE
If you're an informed consumer, you may have label-reading down to an art form. But what if the label itself is confusing? When it comes to buying products that aren't tested on animals, the smart shopper faces a confusing assortment of logos, with a variety of terms like "against animal testing," "contains no animal extracts," and "no animal by-products." According to Holly Hazard of the Doris Day Animal League, "By 1990, over 222 U.S. companies made some claim of being "cruelty-free."
To end the confusion, last year representatives from the country's largest animal protection groups joined ranks with several cosmetic companies to endorse a strict "Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals." Alongside the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), the Doris Day Animal League, New England Anti-Vivisection Society and the American Humane Association were companies like The Body Shop, Tom's of Maine, John Paul Mitchell Systems and Kiss My Face.
Since then, several other companies have signed on, including Island Dog, Rachel Perry, Earth Science, Nirvana, Inc. and Bio-Pac.
Dr. Martin Stephens, vice president for animal research issues at HSUS, says that in the past, the term "cruelty-free" generally referred to companies that did not perform animal testing on finished products. "The new standard is much tougher," he says.
According to Stephens, the Corporate Standard has two restrictions: "the company itself should not conduct or commission animal testing on any of its products, formulations or ingredients," nor should it "purchase any ingredients, formulations or products from suppliers who conducted or commissioned animal testing on them."
The new standard will not only apply to cosmetics and "cosmeceuticals"-the growing industry of health-related cosmetic products-but will also include household cleaners (bleaches, detergents, polishes and floor waxes), correction fluid, glues and toys.
Tom's of Maine has challenged corporate America with an offer of a $5,000 donation to groups benefitting animals, in the names of Fortune 1000 companies which sign the Corporate Standard in the next 12 months.
Mainstream cosmetic and household product manufacturers claim that any standard is misleading, because all ingredients have in the past been tested on animals. Corporations argue that "cruelty-free" labels should be banned by the federal government, arguing that the labels "confuse" consumers. Hazard says, "They are right that virtually all ingredients have been tested on animals in the past. But that's like saying that because the paper used in recycled stock originally came from trees, it's not more environmentally sound to use it."
Anita Roddick, CEO of The Body Shop International, says that if cosmetic companies stop buying animal-tested ingredients from suppliers, it will "leverage change in this industry." Last year, Roddick presented the European Union with a four million-signature petition, signed in European Body Shops, demanding enforcement of a promised 1998 ban on the selling of any animal-tested cosmetic product in Europe.
The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics
P.O. Box 75307
Washington, DC 20013
Tel: (304) 725-7412
By: Tracey C. Rembert, from an article originally published in E/The Environmental Magazine
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