The Law Concerning Animal Testing and What It Means To Be Cruelty Free.
We often get asked if we test our products on animals, so we thought it was time to write a blog on the ins and outs of Animal testing in the UK and what it means for a product to be truly cruelty free.
Since 2013 in the UK, it has been illegal to manufacture cosmetics that have been tested on animals or to use ingredients that have, at any stage in their development, been tested on animals. This means that you can be sure that your cosmetic products manufactured in the UK or EU will be 'cruelty free' (1)
At Wild Sage and Co, we happily test all our products on ourselves
Does this mean that all EU cosmetics are truly cruelty free?
Certain countries require by law that any imported cosmetic product be tested on animals. So, If a company ships their produce to these countries, there is a legal requirement that they be tested on animals, and these companies know this. So If you are concerned about animal testing, you might want to check which countries have these regulations, and whether your favorite brand ships there.
Here at Wild Sage, we check the import regulations of all the countries we ship to, so that we can be sure that none of our products are used in this way. Some might say that this makes us a 'cruelty free' company. But what does it really mean to be cruelty free?
If being cruelty free means that a product is not tested on or derived from animals, then palm oil would fall into this bracket. But as well all know, the cultivation of palm oil is the cause of mass deforestation, which in turn takes the lives of thousands of orangutans and other endangered animals yearly. This, along with the resulting CO2 emissions and human rights violations (1) has caused many conscientious companies to abandon palm oil in their products.
We don't use palm oil in our products and we never have. When we started our soaping venture we took the time to research every one of our ingredients so that we could make a conscientious decision on whether or not to use them. What we found however was even more worrying.
While the cultivation of Palm oil is clearly unsustainable at present, the alternatives are set to be worse. Palm crops, like Hemp, are extremely high yielding, more so in fact than any alternative crop, and they require less pesticides or chemical fertilisers. This means that while Boycotting may seem like the answer to our Palm problem, the alternatives will lead to more deforestation, and higher use of pesticides and chemicals in the ground, only to produce the same quantity of oil.
So what is the answer? The move towards sustainable, or 'clean', Palm oil has already begun. Greenpeace announced a breakthrough in convincing Wilmar, the world largest palm oil trader, to stop buying from 'dirty' Palm oil traders (2). Putting pressure on big companies to commit to changing their ways and finding certifiably sustainable palm oil suppliers is ultimately the only way to produce real change in the way big companies treat out planet. We can't stop these companies by just asking them, but we can stop funding them, and when we start shopping elsewhere, they tend to get the message.
'Say no to palm oil' has certainly given many of us pause for thought. If the oil we use in our food and cosmetics are vegan, but still not cruelty free, what other murky truths may lie behind the source of our kitchen table. Reports have come out exposing the truth about our avocado consumption. The fruit's surge in popularity has contributed to an increase in deforestation and green house emissions, as farmers in Mexico struggle to keep up with demand (3). As workers pay and work place safety declines, we can see a similar problem with Quinoa farming in Bolivia, where, as a result of its popularity in the west, the grain that was once a staple in the Bolivian diet is now too expensive to afford.
Even if crop cultivation doesn't negatively impact those who farm it, the truth is that there are no mass produced products that are cruelty free. In order to produce any crop we have to clear the land (deforest), till the soil (destroy homes of mice and insects), prevent animals who previously inhabited the land from feasting on them, and with the exception of organic farming, use chemicals and pesticides to ensure that the crops survive.
If our consumption of goods that are neither derived from nor tested on animals are still not 'cruelty free', if we realize that not buying palm oil will probably result in another mass produced oil taking its place, if we acknowledge that even organic crops farmed in this country have resulted in deforestation and the killing of native species, it might all feel a bit hopeless.
At Wild sage HQ we realise that nothing works in absolutes. A product can never be absolutely Cruelty-Free, just in the way that none of us can be absolutely waste free. Here at Wild Sage we don't like to point the finger at small companies that aren't completely perfect, because we realise that none of us truely can be.
We can't be absolutely Cruelty Free, but we absolutely can be Conscientious Consumers, taking steps to improve where and when we can. Buy local, buy organic, don't buy in excess and reuse whatever you can. It might seem all doom and gloom, but little things can make a big difference. Researching where food comes from, only buying sustainably sourced produce, buying produce that is in season, even buying pencils instead of disposable pens. All of these things help a little bit, and if we all do them, they will help a lot.
* If you want to learn more about why giving up palm oil might be bad for the environment, follow the link below