Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Animal Testing

The wonderful world of SOAP

Posted by on Aug 26, 2015 in Animal Testing, Cosmetics, Not tested on animals - cleaning etc, Palm Oil | 0 comments

Because the heart beats under a covering of hair, of fur, feathers, or wings, it is, for that reason, to be of no account? ~Jean Paul Richter

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Me (third from left) proudly displaying my soap bounty with my lovely class mates !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have recently dipped my toe into the wonderfully intriguing world of soap making, having completed a day class with Remington & Emmett.  I cannot sing the praises of this course and the gorgeous, funny ladies who ran it, Nicki and Cheryl, highly enough. (They are so passionate about the palm oil issue that they even sponsor an orangutan and reminded us to download the new palm oil app so you can scan products at the supermarket to find out if they contain palm oil or not. My kind of people !!). They also do some other alluring courses which I am planning to get myself into.

Your skin is the largest organ of your body. Suffice to say that when you slather something on it, presumably on a daily basis, you want it to be something which is not only kind and beneficial to your body and pleasant to smell but also not harmful to our environment or animals.

Hence, when selecting said kind soap, there are a few issues which come to mind.

1. Does it contain palm oil ? Palm oil is in so many products these days, including soap, and you may have heard about the devastation it’s demand is reeking on the forests in Indonesia and Borneo, resulting in orangutans and other animals having nowhere to live. So, avoid products containing non sustainably sourced palm oil. Palm Oil Investigations is a wonderfully informative site to find out more about this issue. Remember that our woeful labelling system still enables palm oil to be referred to as “vegetable oil” (bring in the palm oil app I say).

2. Does it contain animal products ? The type of animal product often found in soap and it’s acceptability to you will vary. It can be anything from the very common (and gross sounding) ingredient of beef or pig fat (labelled as sodium tallowate)  to goats milk, lanolin and honey.

3. Has it been tested on animals ? Animal testing is still regularly carried out on many cosmetic and hygiene products such as soap which is so sad and unnecessary. Please don’t financially support companies who continue to do so. With so many companies out there taking a stand against animal testing, it does not make any sense to support the greedy, thoughtless ones who do.

The main stream supermarket soaps which most of us buy as they are convenient and cheap, don’t do well in these categories. The Shop Ethical Guide gives them a rating according to their stand on these (and other) issues. It’s interesting to see which of the big names fail so terribly (Nivea, coming in at last place, shame on you !). The Choose Cruelty Free list and PETA’s Great Cruelty Free Soap Bars are good places to hunt down an ethical soap.

My fella is a massive fuss pot and will only buy the likes of Coles Revitalising Citrus Fresh Soap (or anything else on special). I attribute this to him being a bloke with zero interest in soap – and wanting something cheap and convenient. It has an overwhelming citrusy smell (no doubt attributed to the Ethidronic Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, CI 21100 and CI 12120 found in the list of ingredients on the back !)- perhaps to disguise the rendered beef fat it contains – mmm, mmmm !! . So, I am on the hunt for an acceptable substitute, complete with a pre-requisite of rounded edges (!).

Soaps I covet ?

I hold Veronica Foale Essentials from Tasmania solely responsible for my recurring fantasy of sitting in my (as yet non existent) country cottage after fleeing my government job, whimsically making my living by selling my beautifully scented soaps, as all my rescue animals frolic about the undulating green hills outside. I love her warts n’ all writing style too which can be found on her blog (seriously, check it out, she is a great writer). A large number of her soaps are animal product free, all are palm oil free and the combination of scents are just delectable (Caramel Apple Cider anyone ??). She sells at markets around Hobart but they can be easily ordered on line too – it is a perfect time to order too with a 15 % discount available right now as her business celebrates it’s first birthday.

As for the larger companies, I am a fan of :

Biologika : Hand and body washes galore (we have the lemon myrtle one – t’is lovely) as well as some fab sounding soap bars. Very affordable, ethical, cruelty free Australian company.

Lush : – their range is massive and the cheese wheel like wedges of delights never fail to suck me in when I venture into their shops. The “Honey I washed the Kids” is my fave. What could one not like about being slathered in honeycomb and toffee ? Lush, in general, is such a good, kind business to buy from in all respects.

Dr Bronner’s Castile Soaps – I’ve been buying the big 950ml liquid soaps but they do the cakes of soap too (as well as other things such as toothpaste). Beautiful scents (cherry blossom and citrus orange are in my shower right now), affordably priced and oozing with virtuous credentials. They are Leaping Bunny accredited (ie no animal testing), vegan and give back financially to a whole array of wonderful causes such as Compassion In World Farming. Lovely rags to riches tale too which is always good when it’s happened to a nice person which Dr Bronner most certainly was.

Finally, to wrap up……

Does anybody else frugally take hotel soaps with them when they leave ? I tend to do so due to 1. a fore mentioned frugality and 2. not being able to reconcile with the fact that this almost full cake of soap is going to be thrown away after just a couple of lathers of my skin. Cringe-fully wasteful.  Luckily, to assist with this dilemma, in steps Soap Aid, who have identified this need by collecting barely used soaps from hotels around Australia, making them into fresh bars and shipping them off to be distributed in India and other disadvantaged countries where children die from hygiene related illnesses from not washing their hands. What a brilliant initiative.

Any thing soap related you want to share ? I love hearing from you !

 

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Luscious Locks

Posted by on Apr 26, 2015 in Animal Testing, Cosmetics, Palm Oil, Shopping | 14 comments

“Consumers have not been told effectively enough that they have huge power and that purchasing and shopping involve a moral choice” – Anita Roddick

tumblr_mhe4rgym7b1r38hk2o1_1280My hair and hair care regime are fairly simple things. A wash every couple of days, a $25 chop every few months and a touch up of my old biddy grey (or, more accurately, white) roots once a month or so is about the extent of things hair related in my world.

What is not always so simple though is selecting a “kind” shampoo, conditioner and hair dye. Particularly when the majority of choices bombarding us on the supermarket shelves are anything but. A quick inventory / shower stalk at my work place revealed the usual suspects like Dove, Sunsilk, Pantene, Wella Balsam and L’Oreal which I think would accurately reflect the “norm” of shampoo selections out there in the general community. They all score a disappointing C to F with the Ethical Consumer Guide due to criticisms about everything from containing animal ingredients to being tested on animals to use of poorly sourced palm oil to containing micro beads. Not companies I would like to reward with my money !

In my ongoing quest to tread kindly with everything that I buy and do (and to reward the companies who do the right thing by animals and the environment with my patronage) I have been seeking out hair care products which do not contain animal ingredients, have minimal or recyclable packaging, do not contain palm oil or contain only sustain-ably sourced palm oil, are not tested on animals, don’t contaminate the environment (or my head !) with a cocktail of obscure chemicals (after all, it does go straight down the drain) and, ideally, are made in Australia. Luckily, there are quite a few products which tick these boxes (aside from the made in Australia part which is not a deal breaker for me) which I’ve either tried or come highly recommended.

LUSH I am about to set off on some travels and the Lush solid shampoos will fit the bill perfectly. They are compact and fit into a little reusable tin. They smell delightful, the choice is vast and I have tried and tested a few of them now with good results.

ALAFFIA HAIR CARE Their coconut scented shampoo and conditioner gigantic containers are in my shower right now. Their whopping 950ml containers mean that they last seemingly forever. I bought them from my local health food shop at a bargain-ish price of around $20 each. Profits fund poverty fighting community projects in West Africa as well as the planting of 10,000 trees a year to help combat climate change. They also fund maternal care and educational projects in this region. I am a complete sucker for a lovely philanthropic company.

ORGANIC CARE This is probably the most easily sourced and affordable pick from my choices. Their shampoos and conditioners are around the $3-$4 mark / 400 ml and can be found in all big supermarkets.

AESOP Lots of custom made products here (eg for volumising, itchy scalps etc). Gorgeous scents. On the pricey side but worth it for a special treat.

YAROK A US brand (but available in Australia) of hair products which sound divine and and are apparently the saviour to anyone poor soul cursed with limp, fine locks (that would be me !). Not cheap but 3 % of their profits go to protect the Amazon rain forest.

SUKIN This company gets a good rap and they have a nice range of very affordable options.

ECO STORE This lovely company make lots of “eco friendly” products such as cleaning products but also do a hair care range (including anti dandruff shampoo).

GROWN ALCHEMIST A shampoo which promises “damask rose, black pepper and sage” aromas sound almost too tempting for words. David Jones and Myer are stockists.

ETHIKOOL – sell only “palm oil free, cruelty free, chemical free, vegan” products. They sell shampoos Kuush and iRaw which are as close to “natural” as you can get. Not cheap but their ethics are hard to beat. This lovely Australian company raises money to protect the Orangutans and the forests in Indonesia, hence their strong no palm oil stance.

DE LORENZO – score a resounding “A” on the Ethical Consumer Guide. This company would be the pick of the bunch for the “higher end” of the market and are used by many hairdressers. Not just shampoos / conditioners but all the other hair related paraphernalia as well.

AUSTRALIAN BIOLOGIKA – Highly recommended, sits up near the top on the Ethical Consumer Guide and, when my current shampoo runs out, I’m going to give them and their highly affordable, bulk containers (1kg) of alluring scents such as coconut and bush lemon myrtle a try. Zero palm oil content too.

And, one for the fellas, D + T CHAMPION OF MEN

My man………………..

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is blessed with many dashing qualities but a full and lustrous head of hair is not one of them. If he did, I would be buying him some Man Shampoo. For all the men out there with bountiful locks check it out – (also a great range for bearded men). Organic beard oil and balm – who would have known the existence of such substances !

As for do it yourself hair dyes to touch up pesky old roots, I have been using Herbatint for years and pick it up from any health food shop. Not only is it a cruelty free product but you can just use what you need as you go so there is no wastage which was always an issue when I used other hair dyes in the past. Tints of Nature is supposedly good too. And Lush have an interesting array of Henna Hair dyes.

After a hairdresser who does the right thing and uses only cruelty free products in their salon ? Seek out those who use De Lorenzo products via their website. Otherwise, in Sydney, I have spied Organic Hair Culture in Ashbury, nice and close to me who use only vegan / non animal tested hair products so will be paying them a visit next time I need a hair chop. For my Victorian friends, Veg Out Hair in Sommerville looks just perfect.

Or, indubitably, the kindest (and cheapest) option of all would have to be hopping on the”poo free” (often coupled with the bicarb soda and Apple Cider Vinegar rinse regime) wagon. If I was in a position to hide from the world for a couple of weeks, I would give it a go. The results from just letting your natural hair oils just do their thing are meant to be quite transformative. However, my hair resembles an oil slick disaster after a couple of days of non washing so this is one experiment I am just not brave enough to try.

Don’t forget these go to guides to help you choose, not just your perfect, kind shampoo, but all manner of things  :

Ethical Consumer Guide

Choose Cruelty Free

How does your shampoo / conditioner stack up in the kindness stakes ? Any more good ones to recommend ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Smelling gorgeous

Posted by on Dec 14, 2014 in Animal Testing, Perfume etc | 11 comments

“Dear intelligent people of the world, don’t get shampoo in your eyes. It really stings. There. Done. Now fucking stop torturing animals” – Ricky Gervais (love this man !)

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photo credit : acuteaday.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s be honest, we all enjoy smelling good. A heady, evocative smell can whisk you straight back to a time in your life or remind you of a person quicker than any of our other senses.

However, as with all things beauty related, there is something particularly offensive about having an animal suffer in order for us to smell or look pretty.

My treading kindly quest is a continual learning curve, including the discovery that sourcing cruelty free perfume is not the simplest of tasks.

I have worn Issey Miyake perfume for about the last 20 years. It reminds me of my friend Meg who has worn it for even longer. My fella wears Issey Miyake aftershave. Suffice to say, I love its very particular aroma and all the memories it evokes with just one little spray.

In response to my query to Issey Miyake (owned by Shishedo) about their stance on animal testing, animal ingredients and why they don’t appear on any of the third party certification sites, I received a rather vague and wofty reply which didn’t adequately address my concerns. (“We strictly implement the regulations in favour of the development and the insertion of our cosmetic products in the market. In accordance with the European Directive, we follow the progress of testing methodologies in order to avoid animal testings as we go along with alternatives methods. Therefore, we no longer experiment animal testings for the products introduced in the market.”) What on earth does that even mean ?

I don’t want give money to a company which thinks squirting painful chemicals into an animal’s eyes or onto their skin causing it to blister is an OK thing to do to make money. I want to give my money to a company who has the integrity not to sell to the massive Chinese market (where animal testing is still compulsory for beauty products sold there) and who places the suffering of animals and the environment above making a quid. I think we probably all want this but the seductive world of the perfume industry does not make this an easy feat. Virtually every big name brand (think Clinique, Calvin Klein, Avon, Estee Lauder, Michael Kors) which you see in the David Jones perfume hall either contains animal ingredients and/ or  it (or the ingredients contained within it) is tested on animals or the big company who owns it endorses animal testing. This Choice article is critical of the sales assistants of some brands who will tell you otherwise so don’t always trust what you are told !

The Shop Ethical perfume site is a grim collection of crosses and calls for boycotts due to a whole manner of dirty little secrets which the perfume world gets up to (including animal testing, use of microbeads, use of palm oil).

As for some of the animal ingredients which many perfumes contain…….Musk, Civet and Castoreum are three of the bizarre animal derived ingredients (fancy some anal gland secretions from the civet cat anybody ?) which are often found in perfumes to create longevity but are often produced in a cruel manner – with the animals either having to be killed (beavers in the case of castoreum) or kept in tiny cages for their lives (civet). This article explains a bit more.

To get around the whole dilemma of ambiguous advertising (such as the common line “we do not test on animals apart from if required by law”) or, as in the case of Issey Miyake, they may not test on animals but the “parent” company does (so the profit filters through to the “bad” company anyway…) use one of these independent guides. There are stringent requirements to get on their lists and companies are struck off if they don’t comply. So, the hard work is done for you and you can sit back and smell nice with a clear conscience.

* Choose Cruelty Free

Leaping Bunny Guide

PETA’s guide

A quick inventory of my dressing table reveals, aside from my Issey Miyake, remnants of Pure DKNY  and  Michael KORS (also owned by evil animal testing giant Estee Lauder) and Davidoff Cool Water owned by Coty Australia – also known for animal testing. Sigh. What sort of kind treader am I ? A woeful one !

Cruelty free perfumes I have either tried or yearn after are these ones (and feature in the above guides):

Pacific Perfumes – gorgeous New Zealand company selling a summery array of affordable solid, oil and spray perfumes. I have my eye on the solid perfumed, cute vintage tinned “The Lady’s Moustache”. Who could resist a name like that ? whoreSHOP_1_large

Pacifica Perfumes – USA ethical company (donates to women’s shelters, only uses recycled boxes etc) which are easily found in Australia. They have tantalising “flavours” such as Indian Coconut Nectar and Mediterranean Fig. I have a couple of these perfumes and they are lovely and I usually get a compliment when I wear them. Not so long lasting but affordable enough to have a wee spray every couple of hours.

Lush – I am a huge fan of this kind and ethical company and they have a great perfume selection. I have their solid “Gorilla” Perfume which is a long lasting Jasmine scent.

Natio  – another Aussie kind company that I love. Limited women’s perfume  but a few men’s aftershaves which are deliciously manly and “fworgh” smelling (will try out on my fuss pot other half soon !). Easy to find in Myer, David Jones etc.

Lavanila – this US based company receives consistently glowing reviews and has environmentally friendly (they plant a tree when you order a product from them), chemical free, cruelty free credentials. I want some. They can be purchased in Australia with free delivery from Beautiful Because (which sells an array of cruelty free products). The “Vanilla Summer” promises wofts of “Madagascar Vanilla, mango, pineapple, coconut”. Get out of the house !

Arbonne – love their cute bottles and cruelty free philosophy. Would be a perfect perfume introduction to a teenager who would go nuts over a bottle like this……5243.lg

 

 

Olo – unusual scents aplenty (tobacco, whiskey, wood combo ?!). Sweet little Portland company.

Givescent – small, philantropophic company inspired by the smells of Italy and is chemical free. Gives a portion of it’s profits to worthy women’s charities including “every mother counts”.

So, Issey Miyake, for the next half of my life, I am going to replace you with a kinder, better, more transparent you and find a new signature smell which ticks my kind living lifestyle boxes too. After a couple of decades (nostalgic old stick in the mud, who me ?!) , it is time.

 

 

 

 

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Animal Testing – Sun Screen

Posted by on Oct 13, 2013 in Animal Testing | 4 comments

“I am not interested to know whether vivisection * produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn’t…The pain which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity towards it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further” – Mark Twain

* Vivisection means “experimentation on live animals”.

 

Unfortunately, cruel animal testing is still wide spread throughout the world on everything from cosmetics to household cleaning products to weed killer to pet foods. I don’t think that anyone reading this page would knowingly use any product which has been tested on animals but, as with so many animal welfare issues, it can sometimes be hard to do the right thing. Companies can be misleading and duplicitous, there is a distinct lack of truth in labeling and information can be hard to source if you don’t know where to look.

I am intending to do a few posts on this very important topic of animal testing to break it down into easily digestible topics. So, what better product to start my anti animal testing vent on yet another unseasonal 30 degree  October day in Sydney but….SUNSCREEN. Something my heat fearing,  freckled skin needs a constant coating of.

Luckily, the world of the internet makes it easy for us all to find kindly sourced products, once we know where to look.

However,  it is not always as simple as seeing the “not tested on animals” logo on the packaging of a product.  The product itself may not be tested on animals but it’s ingredients may be. Companies do not always tell the truth and are aware that being “not tested on animals” is desirable among most consumers. And then, there is China (and Brazil to some extent) – who’s government requires all cosmetics to be tested on animals prior to being them sold there.

These are the universally respected lists to use when you want to find a product which has not been tested on animals. These lists remove any ambiguity when searching for an ethical sunscreen and they are regularly updated and companies are booted off if they waiver in their ethics. I have targeted sun screens in the links but they are useful for most products.

The Australian independent and not for profit Choose Cruelty Free.

The internationally recognised Leaping Bunny.

Peta’s Beauty Without Bunnies

Each of these sites has useful information about animal testing, the alternatives etc.

Not necessarily concentrating on sun products but interesting all the same, Animal’s Australia provide a good guide on companies to avoid as they DO test on animals (or advertise as being cruelty free but sell to countries where animal testing on products is mandatory – ie: China). Quite a few surprises (like Clinique and L’Occitane) appear on the list.

We have a stash of sunscreens in our cupboard which has formed the initial part of my research for this topic.  There are mixed results in terms of their virtuousness in respect of animal testing.

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* Banana Boat, Le Tan and Sothys are iffy. They do not appear on any of the credible lists as being tested or not tested on animals. Sothys has the “Not tested on animals” claim on it’s packaging but this is open to ambiguity as discussed above.

* UV Natural and Natio get a big tick of approval from Choose Cruelty Free so they will remain on my shopping list.

* Nivea – the Ethical Consumer Guide have criticised them for selling to China (despite being marketed as being cruelty free) so they are off my list big time for putting profit over ethics.

* Wotnot – appear to be a highly ethical company but do not appear on the Choose Cruelty Free list. I have written to them to find out why not (which is a good idea if you are unsure…..by contacting a company, you are reinforcing to them the importance of this issue to the consumer).

I have yet to purchase sun screen products from Moogoo and Dermalogica but intend to in the future. They should be rewarded for their refreshing display of integrity by refusing to sell to the lucrative Chinese market (in the case of Dermalogica, they pulled out of the Chinese market when learning of the animal testing requirement). Jurilique, Avon and Estee Lauder are on my “never again” list for doing the exact opposite and selling their soul – paying for animal experimentation to allow their products to be sold in China (despite being marketed as being “cruelty free” in Australia).

As of this year, the EU have banned the sale of cosmetics which have been tested on animals. Israel’s ban came into effect on the 1st January 2013. Animal testing for cosmetics has recently been banned in India (and they are looking towards a sales ban, such as is present in the EU and Israel, on products which have been tested on animals in other countries). Once again, Australia is lagging behind. Although Australia does not conduct animal testing for cosmetics (although it does for many other things), products from overseas which have been tested on animals can be sold here. Similarly, Australian companies can still market their products as being “not tested on animals” but use ingredients that HAVE been tested overseas to create a loop hole. Labour’s Tanya Plibersek was pledging to end the sale of cosmetics in Australia that had been tested on animals to keep up with the tide of sensibility around the world but, unfortunately, Tony Abbott came into power and I can’t see this issue being close to his heart.

On a final note, remember not to wear any sun cream near coral reefs as, no matter how kindly sourced your sunscreen is as it can be damaging to reefs.

Would love to hear your feedback on how your sunscreens at home stack up !

PS : Have had some feedback from a few companies :

Le Tan – “Thank you for your recent email and for taking the time to write to us. Le Tan is currently in the process of becoming reaccredited to rejoin the Choose Animal Cruelty Free list. The process is proving to be more lengthy than expected as a result of external information required from our suppliers and manufacturers.  At Le Tan we do not believe in the testing of products on animals, nor do our manufacturers and we are currently in the process of collecting the external information required.”

As positive as this response sounds, I note from my internet research that this exact response was given to somebody else back in May 2012, nearly a year and a half ago. Hmmmmm ! I cannot imagine the re-accreditation process being so arduous and have written back to them advising them of this and the fact that Le Tan is off my list until they are back on the Choose Cruelty Free list.

Cancer Council “I have spoken with our National Licensing Manager and he has confirmed that our sunscreens do not have animal products in them, nor are they tested on animals – only humans. However, he informed me that we cannot categorically speak for the individual componentry that comprises a tube of sunscreen – e.g., whether or not the glue that is used to stick the label on the tube of sunscreen was ever tested on animals or contains an animal product.”

Again, sounds promising but they successfully dodged my question about why they do not appear on any of the cruelty free lists so….I have my suspicions about the transparency of their claims.

Banana Boat – “Banana Boat do not test on animals.”

No further explanation about why they are not on any lists etc so I remain dubious.

 

 

 

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