If you were like me 15 months ago, you probably read this title and thought 'I didn't know animal testing even happened anymore?' Maybe you've seen 'natural' branding and assumed this means it has been ethically made, and there's no way on earth an animal would have to suffer for the sake of beauty. Because we don't live in a world like that anymore, right? The cold and hard truth is it definitely does, and a lot more than we've been led to believe. In fact 80 percent of the world still has no laws against animal testing, including Australia. But what does that really mean?
About Animal Testing and Its Impact
Cosmetics are everywhere — makeup, skin lotions, shower gels, hair dyes, perfume, nail polish. It is a 532 billion dollar (USD) industry globally that has been developed based on making us feel good about ourselves. So then why the cruelty?
New products and ingredients require safety testing for use on humans. The cosmetic industry is over 7,000 years old, and until recent years has relied on traditional methods of animal testing which often require drawn out torture and the inevitable death of an estimated 500,000 animals every year. Methods of testing include, but aren't limited to, testing the reactions of a substance through animals being injected, forced to swallow, inhale, or be shaved and smeared, and these tests are done repeatedly to ensure accuracy. All of this to gain a currently invalidated response of whether a new product is harmful or not. Whatever the outcome — it's into the grave and back to the drawing board. But is this really necessary?
The Body Shop Mission
The Body Shop and Cruelty Free International first joined forces in 1989 to start the fight against animal testing in cosmetics. Since then, their efforts have lead the way for protecting animal rights, including a European Union ban on cosmetic testing just five years ago in 2013. This was the game changer. As the largest cosmetic market in the world, renowned for having access to the latest fashionable and safe cosmetics, the EU cosmetics industry was able to invest in innovative and alternative technologies that would render animal testing not only less appealing, but redundant. The innovation saw the replacement of gruesome techniques with sophisticated computer models, reconstituted human skin donated by volunteers and data basing safe ingredients. These non-animal methods have proven to be substantially more accurate, timely and cost effective.
The past five years has seen dramatic increases in awareness and concern for ethical consumption. As countries change their laws, customers everywhere have been boycotting industries that require animal testing and demanding more 'cruelty-free' products, there is hope that we will one day live in a cruelty-free world. But the fight isn't over.
Fifteen months ago The Body Shop and Cruelty Free International came together to create the biggest animal rights campaign in history — to end animal testing in cosmetics once and for all, everywhere and forever. But how, you ask? With the desired support of eight million signatures. The Body Shop stores from all over the world joined forces to educate their customers and rally their signature support. FAAT (Forever Against Animal Testing) Fridays began, consisting of large store protests, publicity stunts with influential people from all spectrum's (government, film, influencers). All to get the word out that animal testing is still happening, and together we have what it takes to make it stop. Three weeks out from the due date, The Body Shop was still faced with the unfathomable mission of securing a further 300,000 signatures to reach their target. But instead of giving up, they pushed harder than ever before.
On the 4th of October, World Animal Day, we joined forces in New York to make our stand with 8,342,438 signatures in hand from all over the world. A stream of #ForeverAgainstAnimalTesting shirts filled the streets of Manhattan at sunrise with dogs and pink decorations, as we let the world know that we think an animal's life is worth fighting for. The sun and our hopes rose over the city as we marched our way to the United Nations to ask for their support in this journey. We were joined by influential activists such as Maggie Q, CEO of Cruelty Free International Michelle Thew, Bollywood actress, Jacqueline Fernandez, UK parliament member, Dr Lisa Cameron MP, European Union MEP, Alex Mayer and other Body Shop representatives. We discussed with the UN how this cause meets the criteria of Sustainable Development Goal 12 — Responsible Production and Consumption, and how now more than ever, we need their help.
Where to from here?
But it doesn't end here. While we can't predict how long it will take for legislation to pass, officially ending the use of animal testing in cosmetics worldwide, as consumers we can make the change today. I had a chance to talk with The Body Shop Global Head of Activism, Jessie Macneil-Brown on how we can continue to support this mission moving forward, "Consumers are demanding change. What we need everyone to do, is to keep asking for cruelty free brands. Animal testing just doesn't make sense. There are non-animal testing methods that are faster, more consistent and cheaper. The biggest sectors like South Korea and Europe are already cruelty-free."
"In Australia, the legislation to end animal testing has been sitting dormant for years. In order to get this across the line, we need to put the pressure on. We have a new Prime Minister, elections are coming up. What we really need is to raise that consumer voice. Trade and cosmetics are important to the Australian government. We need to talk to our local MP's and senators and The Body Shop Australia is currently formulating ways to get that pressure on. We've just seen it work in Canada, it's been passed in New Zealand — it's time to do it here."
Time and time again, we have proven that if we stand together we can make a real change in the world. It starts with you, it starts with us — and together we can make this huge dream of ours an incredible, history-making reality.