Tuesday, 24 January 2012

five things [in which I like animals more than people].

When I was in third grade, I was teased for having this backpack covered in slogans announcing "Meat is Murder!", "I Am Not a Nugget!", "Love Animals, Don't Eat Them", and various other catchy phrases from PETA's shop.  I was quite the little activist, and I was exceptionally unforgiving in my views.  In fact, in going through my closet I found several mostly-empty notebooks; one such notebook had scribbled in it "I HATE J. CREW AND THE CHINESE FUR TRADE!!!" in my boxy elementary-school printing.  I don't even think I knew what J. Crew was at that point, only that I hated them because they sold fur.

So when faced with the opportunity to shop at J. Crew this weekend, I did my research first to assuage my inner child/activist's concerns.  Happily, I found that J. Crew no longer sells real fur, and I proceeded to buy two shirts from their outlet store.  (You'll probably see them in upcoming posts!)  

My family and I aren't as strict as we used to be about checking the products we buy for "Not Tested On Animals" or "Cruelty-Free" labels, but it's always been something I'm conscious of.  Like my deeply-ingrained mistrust of PetCo (though I hear PetSmart is the one to hate now, for buying from cruel puppy mills), I habitually avoid buying Johnson & Johnson products if I can help it, and I never eat Jell-O (though marshmallows and gummy candies, I can't be held responsible for).  However, researching J. Crew's status as a cruelty-free place to shop rekindled my interest in supporting animal-friendly companies.  I figure, if they're nice to the animals, they're probably nicer to people too.

Going through my make-up and hair products when I got home was tough.  Really, excruciatingly painful, and I don't think that's a hyperbole at all.  It was an unpleasant shock to see that the majority of the products I use every day have been tested on animals!  CoverGirl (owned by major animal-testers, Proctor & Gamble), Maybelline (owned by L'Oreal), Herbal Essences, and Aussie (both also owned by Proctor & Gamble), to name just a few.  Eeeks!

The good news is, neither MAC nor Revlon test on animals, so I get to keep my favourite lipsticks :)

So my mum and I made a plan to do some replacing of the offending products via a trip to Sephora (YAY!).  But in the mean time, I feel pretty guilty about using these products every day, knowing that bunnies and other cute animals were hurt in the process of making them.  To help diffuse my guilt, I've made what replacements I can.  I'm no longer using Aussie shampoo and Conditioner - I've switched them out for an Avalon Organics shampoo and a (divine-smelling) Yes To Carrots conditioner.

Where on earth is the five things post, buried in all of this?  I thought I'd share with you some of the fruits of my research, and spotlight some of my favourite cruelty-free brands and products!

1. Giovanni
I have these obnoxious red bumps on my upper arms.  I've always had them, and I probably always will.  But Giovanni's body scrubs help me exfoliate my skin and, even better than that, they smell freaking amazing.  Their Hot Chocolate Sugar Scrub is what I use in the wintertime, because it's scrubby and delicious and wonderful.  During summer, I switch to their Cool Mint Lemonade Salt Scrub, which smells just as delectable as its chocolatey counterpart, and is refreshing and cooling where the chocolate is warm and comforting.  Giovanni also makes hair care products, and their conditioners are the only ones my mother will use!  (Speaking of their hair products, I used to use this shampoo for dyed-brown hair just because it smelled so divine!)  
You can find Giovanni products online, and also at Target.

I had read a lot about LUSH Cosmetics before finally stumbling across one of their stores when my mother and I were out shopping up north.  Of course, we had to stop there, and we left with new soap, lip balm, and hair conditioner... and it was so hard to leave with only that!  LUSH is focused on using ecologically-friendly ingredients and packaging (they encourage you to return the little black jars in which a lot of their products are packaged, so they can recycle them!), as well as firmly against animal testing.  Also, their products are delicious-smelling!  Different people have different tastes in regards to what scents they enjoy, and I'm fairly certain they cater to everyone's olfactory desires.  The soap I bought is lemon-scented, and it's gentle and refreshing and absolutely delightful - not to mention, completely vegan!  I can't attest to the lip balm, as it's my mum's (I prefer Smith's Rosebud Salve), but the hair conditioner/moisturiser thing is mine and I love it and use it every night after I shower!  It has replaced my leave-in conditioner (which, incidentally, was from Giovanni) and acts as a super-moisturising, softening, shine-ifying magic potion of a product.
You can find LUSH products online and at their stores.

3. Yes To Carrots
Yes To Carrots' facial moisturiser was something I picked up at Target simply because I needed new lotion.  What I didn't expect was a yummy, slightly-sweet smell and a fabulous product to boot!  The "Yes To..." line has Carrots, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Blueberries, which divide products into different treatment focuses.  Now I'm using their Yes To Tomatoes conditioner, which has the same great smell and leaves my hair feeling super duper soft.  (Can you tell I'm trying to make this go a bit faster?  Yeah...)
You can find Yes To Carrots products online and at Target.

4. Urban Decay
There's a reason the Naked Palette is one of the most sought-after make-up sets out there!  I haven't personally tried Urban Decay's products, but I have heard so many great reviews about, well, everything, that I'm really excited to add some eyeliner, at least, when I re-stock my make-up bag!  Can you believe that along with the super-saturated colours and long-lasting formulas, Urban Decay's products are all completely cruelty-free?  Perfection!
You can find Urban Decay products online and at Sephora stores.

5. Burt's Bees
Burt's Bees has been in my make-up bag since before I had a make-up bag.  Or before I really knew what make-up was.  Possibly it's engrained into my DNA.  The fantastically pepperminty lip balm is my constant companion - it's in my school bag, my purses, my desk, my bedside... And along with this classic, the company's line has expanded over the years to include hair care products, tinted lip balms and glosses, and a huge array of facial cleansers and moisturisers and everything in between.  It's well-known that honey is a great moisturiser, and beeswax is a far better ingredient for protecting your lips than, say, petrolium jelly, so what's not to love?
You can find Burt's Bees products online and at practically any grocery/convenience/drugstore ever.

I used to feel really uncomfortable when someone would ask me why I was vegetarian.  I almost felt as if I had to justify my choice by providing them with some insightful social commentary.  A girl who isn't a fan of forcing any sort of beliefs on unwilling people, I felt pressure to convert them to the "Good Side", as if I would be failing as an activist if I didn't convince people of my rightness.  

Now I'm much more content with my beliefs and the knowledge that just because something works for one person, doesn't mean it's the only way to go.  So why am I vegetarian, you ask?

Well, I like most animals more than I like most people.  So if I don't eat people, why should I eat animals?

Also, I think meat tastes icky.


PS - (I hear your groans - wasn't this post bloody long enough!?) My information on what companies test and don't test on animals is entirely based on PETA's cruelty-free shopping guide.  If I've made any mistakes, please let me know!  But also please provide a link so I can verify your correction :)  Thanks!

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