On Thursday, I returned to my room after a busy afternoon of classes and unloaded my book bag. My attention focused on one of my three roommates, Rachel, who sat on the floor with a look of disgust. After asking her what was wrong, she replied, “I just bought this new Garnier Fructis shampoo and conditioner and Clean and Clear face wash, but I found out these companies test on animals! Should I throw them away?” Her question sparked my curiosity. I thought back to my own products: Pantene shampoo, Neutrogena facial cream cleanser, Crest toothpaste, Lancôme facial cream, etc. I ran to my laptop to research the brands for which I had once thought myself a loyal consumer.

Shockingly, I discovered that many of the products I purchase are smaller companies under the major umbrella company of Procter & Gamble — a big player in animal testing, according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Even the Tide I used for my laundry detergent tested their products on animals. Instead of seething, I focused my attention on researching and educating myself about animal testing through a PETA website and finding alternative products to use that didn’t participate in animal testing. As an avid Burt’s Bees customer, I will admit I had a little moment of joy to see that they didn’t test on animals.

Fortunately, the list of companies that didn’t test on animals vastly outnumbered the amount of companies that did test on animals. I found affordable alternatives with Revlon, Kiss my Face, Paul Mitchell, Aveda and Nature’s Best.

Through a little investigation, I’ve learned that you can’t go on face value. A lot of companies claim to be humane and green but don’t follow the appropriate procedures. For example, natural-looking containers can be alluring and look legitimate to consumers. But many companies will advertise the fact that a particular product (face wash, shampoo, etc.) is not animal tested while other products of the same line are. Labels are designed to convey a positive image, not publicize a company’s practices.

Legally, the 1966 Animal Welfare Act requires the “humane care, handling, treatment and transportation of some animals in certain situations,” according to the animal rights group In Defense of Animals. However effective the act may have been, the success rate is undermined by the act’s exclusion of cold-blooded animals and failure to protect any animal used for experimental means. According to the IDA, “the Animal Welfare Act does not protect animals during an experiment, regardless of how painful or even unnecessary it is.” Poor enforcement of the act’s regulations in recent years demands scrutiny. Recently, all types of media have highlighted those who shirk the standards of the act, including a spotlight on our own beloved University Health System.

According to a February 2009 article in the Daily, the University has come under pressure from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act (‘U’ under pressure for dog testing, 01/14/2009). The accusations and a formal complaint by the USDA proved true. A professor of surgery from the University Medical School had been using live dogs during life-saving surgery simulations and procedural practice. The dogs underwent surgeries by the training students and were euthanized shortly afterward. The professor, Dr. Richard Burney, claimed that his practices had been approved by the American College of Surgeons.

Though the experimental use of animals isn’t illegal, it isn’t necessary. Our University supposedly holds itself to high standards in ethical matters, but the University shouldn’t ignore ethics pertaining to animal rights. There was no reason alternative methods weren’t employed for the same goal all along, especially since the University has been financially capable of using other methods, like the TraumaMan System, a replica human body capable of undergoing realistic surgical procedures for teaching purposes that the University now uses.

When dealing with strategic company advertisements, it’s important that they are looked at with skepticism. In order to make informed decisions, do a little research yourself and see what kind of practices you are really supporting through your purchases and if it aligns with your own values. As innocent as you may think purchasing your next bottle of shampoo or laundry detergent is, knowing that a living being suffered for your purchase may change your mind.

Adrianna Bojrab is an LSA sophomore.

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