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Cruelty free cosmetics: animal testing ‘largely hidden from the public gaze’



In March last year, the last phase of the European Union’s ban on animal testing for cosmetics came into force. Does this mean consumers can be sure cosmetics are no longer tested on animals?

This article originally appeared in Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Sustainable Spending 2013.

Michelle Thew, CEO of Cruelty Free International (CFI), a global organisation campaigning against animal testing for cosmetics and toiletries, said, “Many members of the public now believe [the EU ban] means that all cosmetics products on sale in the EU are free from animal testing. This is not the case.”

The ban means that no company can carry out new animal tests for cosmetics purposes outside the EU for products to be sold in the EU. Products that have been tested on animals in the past can continue to be sold. If products have been tested on animals after the ban came into force these products cannot be marketed within the union.

However, companies, even if they are based in the EU, are still able to sell products with animal tested ingredients outside of the EU as long as the animal testing was done elsewhere.

CFI argues, “This could open up the theoretical possibility of a company conducting animal tests for ingredients in some markets but using non animal methods and existing data for the EU market.”

Effectively this means shoppers could be putting their money into a company that conducts animal testing or using products that have been tested on animals despite disagreeing with the ethics of the issue and actively trying to avoid it.

A survey commissioned by CFI indicates that the majority of the public try to avoid products that have been tested on animals. Some 80% of people stated they will always or sometimes look at labels before deciding whether to buy cosmetics or household products.

Additionally, more than 60% would be put off buying a cosmetic or household product that had animal tested ingredients. High street retailer Lush, which actively campaigns against animal testing, has also noted the public’s reaction to controversial issue.

The company’s ethical director Hilary Jones commented, “Generally speaking, people hate animal testing. It is only able to continue because it is largely hidden from the public gaze. As soon as people become aware of what happens to animals, they have an instinctive response to wish to see it stopped.”

Lush is not currently approved by the Leaping Bunny scheme – the accepted standard for companies that don’t use animal testing – but instead uses its own systems to stamp out the issue.

Thew also commented, “The ethical market is one which is growing at a rapid rate, which does certainly mean that consumers are more aware of what they purchase and, be it for their food, or their face, they are looking for a high ethical standard.”

Despite the public’s sentiments, product labels are often misleading. Thew explained, “We have found an increase in awareness about animal testing for consumer products. Unfortunately, however, the public are often misled when it comes to which products have and haven’t been tested on animals, due to a confusing array of logos and statements, which adorn products and packaging.”

Many companies state on their packaging that they are ‘against animal testing’ and ‘fund research into alternatives’, leading consumers to believe they are buying non-animal tested products, which may not always be the case.

The Leaping Bunny represents the Humane Cosmetics Standard and gives consumers the assurance that a company does not test on animals in any of its operations or sales. The CFI only certifies companies that have a policy not to test on animals and as a result go beyond the legal minimum and eliminate animal testing from their whole supply chain.

Thew added, “The Leaping Bunny is a certification scheme, not just a list: we ask companies to prove their claims, and appoint an independent auditor to regularly ensure that their animal testing policies are watertight.”

Over 500 companies have been certified so considering ethics when selecting products doesn’t mean that consumers will have a limited choice or lower quality of products.

“The only restriction we find on our business from our refusal to animal test, is that we are unable to use newly invented ingredients. These ingredients are the ones where animal testing is still mostly used. This search for new-fangled ingredients for anti-aging etc is what is driving the need for more and more testing on animals”, Lush’s Jones said.

We stock our shops with a full, wide range of skin, hair and bathing products, which are effective and creative and for which no animal has had to die. We have always wondered why, if we can do it, others don’t.”

Further reading:

How Britain’s biggest supermarkets fare on sustainability

Sainsburys say no to animal testing

A manifesto for fashion that truly challenges the status quo

Consumers have ‘immense power’ to make food sustainable

The Guide to Sustainable Spending 2013


How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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