Sunday, December 25, 2011

Boycott Animal Testing-- Part one: Cosmetics

Animal testing is the cruel and unnecessary process of force-feeding and slathering products on animals and seeing how they react. One kind of animal testing for cosmetics is the Draize test, which involves putting chemicals in rabbits' eyes (rabbits have a slow reaction that causes them not to blink fast enough to avoid the chemicals). Another kind tries to determine how long it takes for half of the rats or mice to die once poisoned with a chemical, such as hairspray, nail polish, shampoo, etc. These tests are conducted to ensure the "safety" of the products being used-- but they are totally unhelpful.
Humans and other animals are different on a cellular and molecular level-- which often results in the tested animals reacting differently than humans do (I'll talk more about that in Part two: Biomedical Research). And besides, the chemicals used in cosmetics should be safe enough to test on humans right away. Not force-feeding humans like they do to animals, but applying a small amount on the skin of volunteers to see if they form a rash. So basically, testing on animals is completely worthless, not to mention cruel!
Which products do and don't test on animals, then? Well, it is your lucky day-- there is a huge printable list of cruelty-free companies that I am about to give you a link to!

Ta-Da!*** Regular List:
                  Global Guide: ***

Of course, there are so many unnecessary cosmetics out there, too-- you would be best to stick with the basic shampoo, conditioner, soap, and deodorant-- but if you do choose to use more than that, make sure that they ALL are animal-testing-free! Even better, make sure that they are animal-product free, toxic chemical free, and environmentally friendly, too.

Have fun shopping!

P.S. I almost forgot to post this because it's Christmas! Well, this is the last post of 2011. See you on  January 1, 2012!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Action VII: Help the pet-store animals!

How long would you expect animals to stay in a pet store before being bought? A few days? A week, maybe? Animals can actually stay there for much longer. I know a parrot at a pet store who has been around for weeks and weeks! One can only imagine the boredom that they find there, with no playmates to play with, no wide-open spaces to fly over, and no excursions to go on. It must be awfully boring, even depressing!
But please, don't go out and buy them all-- that only fuels the industry.
Helping the animals at a pet store can be tricky. After all, we can not buy them, as this supports the cruel breeding industry. However, there are a few ways to help them endure the boredom of glass cages.
1. Visit the pet store-- and don't bring your money, so that you aren't tempted to buy-- just to visit the animals. Sometimes they have dogs in an open playpen where you can interact with them! Or you can simply "stroke" the animals through the glass; I've tried this, and some of them actually like it. Sometimes being near them is enough. It might help to read up on the species beforehand. For example, cats will not trust you if you stare at them, but birds won't trust you if you blink too much! Helping them now is important because nobody knows what sorts of lives they will live after they are bought, so the time that they spend with you in the pet stores could be one of the only good memories they'll possess! (By the way, animals do have memories!)
2. Report anything wrong with an animal or their cages to a pet-store staff. For example, if a hamster wheel is knocked down, tell someone!
3. Ask the pet-store if you could be a volunteer to take the puppies out on walks or socialize with them. Let them expend some energy, have fun, and get used to humans. This doesn't help the business at all, but it does help the animals!
4. Write a letter to the pet-store chain director and say that you are concerned for the well-being of the animals being sold. For example, you could ask them to start selling animals from shelters instead. Tell them that you won't be buying any of their pet products (eg. hamster wheels and pet food) until they start bringing more ethically-sourced animals to their store. Be polite, but assertive.
5. Support shelters by buying supplies from them, if they sell any. Or at least buy supplies from a store that sells animals from shelters. None of them in my city are perfect, I know, but it is good to support the most humane ones.
There really are so many ways to help animals, when you think about it. So much can be done!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Action VI: The Animal-Friendly Christmas

Making your Christmas animal-friendly takes a bit of extra planning. (But it is worth it!) Please keep in mind your pets, animals being exploited by industry, and wildlife.
Companion Animals: Make sure that any plants hanging around your house are non-toxic, and put the toxic ones in rooms where the animals do not enter, as the leaves can fall onto the ground even when they are out of reach! (Thanks for the tip, A.M.!) For example, mistletoe is toxic, as are holly and poinsettia-- unknowing animals might taste these plants and fall ill, so be careful! If your cat likes eating tinsel and ribbons, you should do without these frills. (Never give an animal as a gift. Having a companion animal requires a lot of effort and money, and people should only adopt once they are sure that they can handle it.) I also suggest giving your pets new toys and lots of love this Christmas-- share the joy!
Industry animals: Here I am talking about animals raised for food, fur, wool, and leather. Please take care to give cruelty-free gifts to your loved ones! And how about serving a vegetarian turkey this year? The brand Tofurkey is popular, and there are many other kinds of fake meats in regular grocery stores as well as health-food stores. Get in touch with any party organizers early to make suggestions.
Wildlife: Seeing that wild animals live in nature, it is very important to keep their home intact! Try to minimize your environmental impact on Christmas by wrapping presents in scarves and reusable gift bags, avoiding ribbons and gift-wrapping paper. Use a live tree in a pot this Christmas, which you can keep inside for a few years and plant in the springtime! See more eco-friendly holiday ideas on my environment blog: .
Hope you have a great time making your Christmas animal-friendly!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Give Pests a Rest!

I'll start off this post with a quiz. Answer honestly!

1) How often do you kill an insect who is in your house?
a. Whenever I see one
b. Only if the weather is too cold to let them outside
c. Never; I either leave them be or take them outside

2) If your house had rats in the walls, what would you do?
a. Call an exterminator immediately
b. Find a no-kill company to release them into the wild
c. Lure them into no-kill traps and release them into the wild

3) How do you deal with the humongous anthill in your backyard?
a. Poison it with toxins or something else that will kill the ants
b. Shovel it up and dump the ants in the park
c. Leave it alone

So how did you do?
If you answered mostly a's, you haven't given much thought to the feelings of animals. You may feel like you don't have the time to deal with them, or you just don't care. Try harder.
If you answered mostly b's, you do try to show compassion towards "pests", and you think about their point-of-view. But you could try harder. You may not be educated on proper pest control, and you draw the line where anything disconveniences you too much.
If you answered mostly c's, then you really hold the animals' interests in high esteem. Well done!

The "Answers" to the above questions:

1. Leave the insects alone, especially if they aren't overtaking your house. If you see insects who will starve if you let them stay indoors, let them outside, but only if the weather is good.
Flies should be regarded not as pests, but as guests-- read J. Allen Boone's opinion in his true story Kinship with All Life, on his new friend "Freddie the Fly":
  • "Curious to what his reactions might be, I abruptly tossed the little fellow into the air. It did not disturb him in the least; in fact he seemed to like it. He cruised slowly just above my head, but when I pointed my finger up in his direction, down he came, landing on the fingertip as though he and I had been doing such things for a long time. I did this again and again, but every time he was tossed off he would always return...."
Animals are much smarter than we give them credit for. Don't end their lives just because of convenience.

2. Although you may not see a difference between b and c for this one, there is indeed a big difference. Catch-and-release exterminators are not always what they are publicized as. "Humane" companies may end up killing the animals anyway. If you do hire a company, do plenty of research, get some references, and make sure it is okay for you to go with them to release the animals. Make sure that the animals ARE released.

3. Always leave anthills alone. They will disappear come winter anyway. While shovelling them away may seem humane, you are dislocating them, subjecting them to confusion and possible death. Always try to co-exist with wildlife in your area.

In conclusion, give pests a rest, treat them like guests, and don't kill their nests! Not the best poem, but a good message!