Is “Cruelty-Free” really Cruelty Free

For the past year or so I would say that I have been working to make my life cruelty free in the normal sense of the phrase. To anyone not actively in this community, consumer goods, specifically makeup, cleaners, soaps, etc. are considered to be “cruelty-free” if there is no animal testing involved with the product before or after it goes to market. This primarily deals with the later stages of the supply chain and is often very easy for consumers to research and inform themselves. This is exactly what I did.

There are a number of resources out there, like Leaping Bunny, Peta, or even personal blogs, that work to consolidate all the cruelty-free brands into an easy to read list of names. Thanks to the smartphone, consumers can access these lists whilst out shopping so that they can alter their lifestyles in a small attempt to control these massive corporations. Much like anything, this new wave of “informed consumers” are taking a stand against companies that continue to support, no matter how inadvertent it may be, the process of testing goods on animals. A companies main goal is almost always to increase product sales

A companies main goal is almost always to increase product sales, and many continue to support them, which is clear in the fact that no company that allows testing on animals has been shut down simply due to poor sales. The fight to raise awareness of this ongoing social issue has just begun, with many social media stars voicing their support, and even conversation to, cruelty-free brands. However, the fight for products free of cruelty does not stop at animal testing before and after market release.

Over break, I came across a video entitled “The Truth About ‘Cruelty Free’ Makeup.” Obviously being an individual who is highly invested in this topic, I clicked on it. Rowan Ellis, the content creator behind this video, opens up a discussion regarding the practices that occur within cosmetic supply chains further away from the animal testing stage. As mentioned before, it is incredibly easy for individuals to uncover whether or not animal testing is a stage within the creation of the product they see on the shelf. What’s not so easy to look up is whether or not modern-day slavery and other such social injustices are being practiced further up the supply chain.

This video provides incredible insight into a multi-billion dollar industry. Sustainability in any industry is a huge issue that is coming to light within the modern era, especially as globalization increases, and brings light to these many issues. Cosmetics companies are praised and deemed ethical if they sell vegan or cruelty free products, but that only represents one stage of production. Although I alone cannot push companies to change their practices, or become more transparent into the idea of where their products come from, I am working to spread the word. Of course, as I have seen with many of my sorority sisters, the push to influence another consumers’ buying habits is difficult. It’s not that they simply do not have an ethical backbone when it comes to purchasing products, but rather many people just do not care and are not quick to retire their favorite items, even if they are harming others.

This issue is harder to fight than the ideas of animal testing, but is an issue that needs to be addressed, spread, and discussed. Will I discontinue my support for this industry? Of course not because at this point in time we cannot confirm nor refute which companies are supporting these injustices. However, I hope that as I explore these issues more, and continue to work towards creating my own brand and voice in the industry, that awareness can be raised and actions can be taken to increase sustainability and responsibility in all aspects of the supply chain.


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