I believe “living a life compassionate to animals” is an everlasting journey. It’s an adventure in learning, a meandering road to aligning with our personal values. There’s always something more we can learn, do, consider, and each of us walks a unique road. Living cruelty-free is one of those areas about which we can continue learning and adapting our behaviours and purchases.
The Life Conscious aims to reveal practical choices to consider, where incremental changes to our everyday lives help an animal somewhere in the world. The suggestions are about raising awareness, educating ourselves, and presenting choices to those who care about animals and want to make positive change. One of these areas of choice lies in “cruelty-free” product options.
Cruelty-free is simply a label applied to a product or activity that doesn’t involve harming or killing animals. There are a number of areas in which we can make mindful choices, and, where possible, choose cruelty-free.
When it comes to cruelty-free make-up there’s a growing list of products against animal testing and those that are certified with the ‘leaping bunny’ logo. The ‘leaping bunny’ is an internationally-recognised certification indicating no new animal tests were used during development of the product. They have their own shopping guide and an app that now features a barcode scanner.
In addition to being cruelty-free, you can also look for vegan products. These are products which do not contain any animal products. Logical Harmony has a list of cruelty-free brands that also offer some (or all) vegan products. The list is regularly updated alongside industry news. Tashina, the founder, does all the research and keeps the list updated.
It should be noted that any brands selling in China are currently required to test their products and cosmetic ingredients on animals. So any brand selling in China is highly unlikely to be considered a cruelty-free brand. As you can imagine, this has huge implications for brands looking to sell to such a massive market.
In 2018, Australia is introducing a ban on animal testing of new ingredients so Australians ‘can be confident that cosmetics made in Australia will not be tested on animals in Australia.’ This does not mean existing products in Australia will be removed – they are beyond the scope of the legislation. Only new products will be assessed. Marie Claire has a good article for more.
If you’re interested in delving deeper into the world of animal testing, check out the documentary Bye Bye Guinea Pig. It explores the scientific reasoning for animal testing and highlights the issues with results.
One of the major ways our fashion choices impact animals is where the products are actually made of animals. Think products that use leather and fur, where an animal’s skin is used as the product itself. In our amazing modern world, there are plenty of leather alternatives and a quick Google search reveals a whole new world. If you’re an animal lover you’re not automatically expected to be conscious of and avoid leather! I’m certain you’ll be inspired by the range of animal-friendly and eco-responsible choices once you’ve seen them!
Another product with an impact on animals is silk. It’s not as obvious as leather or fur, but in order to produce silk the silkworm becomes a victim of the industry. As part of the production process the silkworm (a caterpillar) will create its cocoon. It has an amazing process whereby over about 3-8 days the silkworm creates 1 kilometre of thread. To harvest the silk without breaking the thread, the cocoon is placed in boiling water or blasted with steam or hot air. Around 10 billion silkworms per year are part of this process, according to some estimates.
At this point you may say “but it’s simply not possible to remove all possible impacts my life has on animals”. I wouldn’t disagree with you! I believe it’s simply about knowing our impact, being aware of alternatives, and making decisions that align to our values.
Cruelty-free Home products
At home we can also choose cruelty-free and eco-friendly cleaning products to be conscious of animals. There’s a great Aussie list from PETA, many of which are available in supermarkets. You can look for the leaping bunny logo, or be conscious of the ingredients and policies of the brands from which you buy.
Home funishing options also present an opportunity to choose animal-friendly. Timber furniture can be made from sustainable and unsustainable sources. The Forest Stewardship Council certifies products with “FSC”. By choosing “FSC” products we are assured the product supports forest conservation. They also offer social benefits and incentivise the industry to support better forest management. We can, of course, also buy pre-loved furniture to help reduce the demand for brand new products.
Feather down used in bedding (and clothing) is also harvested from animals – the feathers are plucked from geese or ducks. Sometimes the birds are alive when the feathers are plucked, and other poor animal welfare standards maintained. There is a Responsible Down Standard which aims to guarantee customers that brands bearing the certification are using feathers only from birds that were treated well. You have the option to support certified companies/ suppliers, or buy products that do not use down feathers at all.
In living a compassionate life it’s not too hard to make cruelty-free choices. It’s about knowing the options we have, the impact of our choices, and being deliberate in our everyday decisions. No one is perfect, but every time we make a decision to benefit animals we grow stronger habits. And I like to believe an animal somewhere thanks us!