I feel as if taking this Activism class couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I had recently been thinking about how there were things about this world that I didn’t like that I wanted to change. One of the big issues that I became very passionate about was animal rights. This is a topic that has a broad range of issues, but I realized I had to start with one aspect, then go from there. That is when I decided that I was adamantly against animal testing on cosmetics, personal and household products.
At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what a “cruelty-free lifestyle” meant. After doing tons of research, I realized just how deep animal testing was in the beauty industry. I realized that almost every piece of make-up I owned was made by a company that practiced animal testing. When I was reading other people’s blogs who have done the same thing, and I read the list of companies that test on animals, I felt overwhelmed. These were all the mainstream brands I knew so well, like, Estee Lauder, L’orea Maybelline, CoverGirl, and many, many more. I found out that companies can be “cruelty free” but are owned by parent companies that are not. I also found out that just because a company says that their products are not tested on animals, does not mean that is necessarily true. It is possible they don’t test their final products on animals, but the ingredients they get from other manufactures might be tested on animals. It was all very complicated. But, it just depends how strict you want to be with your lifestyle. I was appalled when I read the vast list of companies that tested on animals, and how many of those companies I supported in my life. However, I was ready to make this change. I found out one of the best ways to know if a company is truly cruelty free was to check and see if they were Leaping Bunny Certified. The Leaping Bunny Program administers a cruelty-free standard and the internationally recognized Leaping Bunny Logo for companies producing cosmetic, personal care, and household products. They provide the best assurance that no new animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or suppliers. It is important for me to see this logo on the back of the products I buy.
The next best thing is the PETA pink bunny symbol. The only problem with this is that companies only need to sign a pledge in order to be placed on the “No Animal Testing” list for PETA. But, I tend to believe these companies unless otherwise proven wrong
So, I had begun to make small changes in my life with regards to living a cruelty-free life when the Activist project came up in class, and I knew right then and there that this was the best time to try and do something about this issue. At first I was not so sure what I wanted to do for the project because I didn’t know what I could do to make a difference. But we learned in the very beginning of class that anyone can be an activist. I realized I wanted to bring awareness to this issue. I decided I would make an Instagram account where I would document my findings and my journey of living a cruelty-free lifestyle with the hopes of aspiring others to do the same. I wanted to be as helpful as possible but I wanted to make sure that I would not come off as aggressive. I knew I did not want to put pictures up of lab animals to get people to stop buying cosmetics that were made by companies that test on animals. My thinking was, if you want someone to do something, you need to make it as easy as possible for them. So, I decided, since I am already making these small changes in my life, I will just share my findings and show people how easy it is to buy “cruelty-free”. I wanted to show that there are hundreds of companies that do not test on animals and it is okay to go outside the mainstream.
So I created my Instagram page with the name Natural_Selections1 and I began looking for people to follow. I first wanted to follow other people who were doing the same thing. I wanted to follow bloggers, cruelty-free companies and extreme vegans who are dedicated to ending animal cruelty. I also followed all of my friends because I needed the support. Each time I put up a picture I would use a series of hashtags in order to gain attention.It really works!
Not long after, I would receive numerous “likes” from the people of Instagram that I did not know. I gained followers this way too. I found that some of the people from the “Vegan Community of Instagram” that I followed were following me back. I was so excited! I really wanted to be part of the community. I was learning a lot from them, and I wanted to share what I was learning with others. At first I thought I would define success by the number of followers I had. I figured, the more the better. And if I have more followers than the number of people I follow, thats even better. But then I realized something very important. I noticed the changes people in my life were making in regards to their personal care product choices. My sister started texting me saying “Hey! I found this product and it’s Leaping Bunny Certified!” My best friend told me she got a moisturizer in one of her Ipsy bags that was cruelty-free and she loved it so much she bought the normal size. My friends and family were clearly being affected by this small movement. They probably wanted to support me, but they also wanted to support a good cause. And they saw how easy it is. That was when I realized I was going to define success by making a difference in people’s lives. And I did. I showed them how easy it was to buy cruelty-free, and they saw how good it felt to do so.
By living a cruelty-free lifestyle I have begun to use a lot of natural products and I am a lot happier with the ingredients I am putting on and into my body. Today, our world is full of chemicals and GMOs and I want to protect myself. I feel better about myself knowing I am supporting companies that have ethical practices and companies that try to make this world a better place and save our planet. Not testing on animals goes hand in hand with protecting our planet. I believe animals are our friends and no animal should be locked up in a cage to be used for testing on products that humans use. I have more issues I want to tackle, but I am very pleased with where I started. My Activist Project is not over, it probably never will be. I look forward to continuing my Instagram page and learning more and being introduced to new companies that believe in the same things I do. Living a cruelty-free lifestyle is easier than you think, and I promise, it is worth it.