What does cruelty free mean? Simply put: many familiar brands test on animals before they deem their products safe for humans to use and enjoy. And while many companies are taking a stand against animal testing, it is still widely practiced around the world today, and impacts almost all of the industries you can think of: cosmetics, medicine, cleaning supplies, food, you name it! In fact, more than 100 million US animals annually undergo lab experiments and product tests, and many of us are unknowingly supporting the practice just by using everyday items.
The good news? People like you are standing up for our furry friends, and making a huge impact! Conversations around cruelty free personal care are more common than ever, with certifications like Leaping Bunny and PETA Certified Cruelty Free popping up in more places every day. But what do these certifications mean, and how can you use them to shop your values? Let’s break it down.
What you’ll learn:
- The definition of animal testing and why it started
- Alternatives to animal testing
- What cruelty free means, and how to look for products that are cruelty free to take a stand against animal testing
What is animal testing?
From monkeys and mice, and puppies and rabbits, the issue of animal testing is a particularly tricky one. The definition of animal testing is “an experimentation carried out on animals … used to assess the safety and effectiveness of everything from medication to cosmetics, as well as understanding how the human body works”. However, the actual practices of animal testing can be pretty ugly, with these tests causing animals to be in pain, distressed, and even die during tests.
Animal testing was created to test the safety of products that we use in our daily lives before allowing humans to use them. In most cases, companies have the choice to use animal testing or not – it is not ‘mandatory’ for most consumer companies. The main reasons many companies will choose to use animal testing is if they want to develop a ‘new’ ingredient that doesn’t have safety data yet. If companies used ingredients that have existing data, they would eliminate their need for animal testing! We’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of this below!
Pros, Cons, and Alternatives
The animal testing debate is ongoing. Some claim it is necessary, others point to comparable, less harmful alternatives. And… not all animal testing is the same. Different tests and experiments are used to determine the how safe certain products are for human use, and different companies may use different tests, making it hard to regulate across the board.
Pros: Historically, animal testing has allowed humanity to understand the side effects of chemicals and medicines created in the last 100 years. We can all agree you should test a product before selling it nationwide, but many companies are doing this without harming animals.
One of our favorite ocean advocacy brands, Stream2Sea, is doing just that! They are completely against animal cruelty and adamantly opposed to animal testing when there are other alternatives. One of the areas where they have deemed it necessary, however, is when testing aquatic toxicity. To ensure the safety of their sunscreen and body products on a larger scale, Stream2Sea breeds live fish and scientifically obtains coral larvae, since there is no other known effective way to assess aquatic toxicity. This means that they can prove that their products have a limited impact on marine environments, so they can sell them without fear of harming worldwide ocean ecosystems.
Cons: Animal testing has been the mainstream way to test the safety of products for years. Besides the intense harm sometimes caused to these animals, there are also arguments against the validity of these tests. Animals are very different from humans, making them only marginally good test subjects for scientific research around products that will eventually be used on humans.
Plus, there are many alternative methods of testing that can replace the reliance on animal testing. Some of these methods include test tube models based on human cell and tissue cultures, computer simulations, and stem cell/genetic testing. These alternatives are often more reliable, more accurate, more cost-effective, and more environmentally friendly than live animal tests. With current advancements in science, the number of alternatives to animal testing will certainly continue to grow – and companies need to get on board!
What does it mean for a product to be cruelty free?
By definition, a product that is cruelty free means that it was not tested on animals in any way, during any point of production. This is not to be confused with something that is vegan, which means that a product does not contain any animal-derived ingredients. It should be noted that a cruelty free product is not vegan by default and vice versa! However, due to the culture around the issue, most vegan products are cruelty free… but if you are looking for a product that is both cruelty free and vegan, make sure to look for both labels + certifications from trusted organizations so you can be sure.
SO, how can you tell if a product is cruelty-free? Look for some of these logos below and shop away! At EarthHero, we tell you which products we carry are cruelty free. Just search “cruelty free” (or click here!) on our website to find your new favorites!
Leaping Bunny is a certification from Cruelty-Free International, an animal protection and advocacy group that campaigns for the abolition of all animal experiments. Under their certification, they make sure that cosmetic and household products are not tested on animals. Companies are also audited to ensure that the ingredients and finished products are not causing harm to animals. We carry some amazing brands that live up to Leaping Bunny standards including: California Pure Naturals, Avalon Organics, Badger Skincare, and more!
Cruelty Free is a certification from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), an animal rights organization. All companies that are included on PETA’s cruelty free list have signed a statement verifying that they don’t use ingredients or create finished products that conduct, or pay for any tests on animals. EarthHero also carries a variety of brands that provide consumers with these Certified Cruelty Free options, such as S.W. Basics and RADIUS!
What can I do?
Do your research! Do some sleuthing of your own to figure out what stance you hold when it comes to animal testing. Do you feel that there is some merit to the scientific concept that animal testing is, in fact, necessary? Or can testing be done using other means that do not cause animal suffering? Would you support animal testing that does not harm the animals, like Stream2Sea? Start by deciding what is important to you, and let us know what you think in the comments below!
Be proactive! Don’t wait until you are at the store to figure out if a product is cruelty free or not – look for an animal-friendly version before you go shopping! And if you’re on-the-go and need to pick something up, apps like Bunny Free and Cruelty-Free allow you to look up products and companies that don’t test on animals, wherever you happen to be!
Vote with your dollars! Just like you would purchase organic foods to support organic farming, the same goes for cruelty free. If you want to show your support to companies that do not test on animals, opt for cruelty free brands! At EarthHero, we are providing our customers with a variety of products with the Certified Cruelty Free and Leaping Bunny certifications. From cleansers to clothing, we are here to help you support the cause.