Cruelty-Free Living on a Budget Part 2: Money Ethics vs. Cruelty Ethics

Buying all-natural products that don’t test on animals can get expensive. Paying interest on debt is expensive, too. For years, I’ve toyed with the idea of switching to all cruelty-free products, all the time. There are several barriers that have prevented me from making this choice:

  • Sticker-shock. It hurts to pay $4.29 for a stick of deodorant or $14 for 60 loads worth of laundry detergent. When buying cruelty-free, you’re forced to buy less in general, buy less of particular items, or give things up altogether. Blogs like feature posts outlining how you can get many household and personal care products for nearly free by combining coupons and sales, but cruelty-free products often don’t go on sale or don’t offer coupons. Or they’re so expensive in the first place that the sale/coupon combo doesn’t make much difference. You can expand your budget for these items, but that money has to come from somewhere. In my case, it would have to come from the extra money we’re pounding into our debt snowball. And that really hurts.
  • Self-education. It’s hard to begin thinking of all the things you buy from companies that test on animals. The same company that makes Skippy peanut butter makes Dove soap and Surf detergent. If you choose not to buy from a particular company, you’re restricting yourself in almost many areas of purchasing. It’s dizzying to decipher which brands are subsidiaries of which other brands.
  • Drawing personal boundary lines. I have some perfectionism running through my veins. I tend to think that if something is worth doing, it needs to be done all the way. However, there is some grey area in cruelty-free that makes me wonder if it might be okay to compromise. Some companies, like Clorox, have new lines like Green Works that aren’t tested on animals. These products are usually much cheaper than the non-mainstream, all-natural, cruelty-free products on the shelf, but they leave me in a quandary. Buy the more expensive product from a company that doesn’t test on animals, or buy the cheaper product from the brand that doesn’t test but the company that does? Looking into cruelty-free products also leads me down the slippery slope of “natural” and “organic” and how much better those products are for me and for the environment. Usually, I don’t even understand what is harmful about a product in the first place, but the hippie in me believes. I always think of Barbara Kingsolver’s quote about the “uncountable deaths by pesticide and habitat removal—the beetles and bunnies that die collaterally for our bread and veggie-burgers,” and wonder how much my deodorant and toothpaste is affecting the cute furry creatures I see in my backyard.

In the past few months, Dexter and I have decided we want to get more serious about cruelty-free living. I’ve learned some promising things about a few brands that don’t test on animals or who do only in select situations, but that are still normal, mainstream brands. Although some of these brands do test when non-animal options are unavailable, many of them financially support the development of alternative methods. I still don’t like that they test, but I know that animal testing will only be eradicated bit by bit in the real world. These are brands that I have decided to buy for the time being. Brands and links to the pages that tell about their animal testing policies are listed below*. Be sure to peruse their websites to see the variety of easy-to-find brands their companies represent.

I had hoped to find evidence that store brands don’t test on animals (although their products would still be developed based on testing by other companies), but I scoured the internet for proof and found nothing. And with animal testing, no news is generally bad news.

For information on companies who do not test on animals at all except for what is required by law, I recommend Caring Consumer where you can search by product, companies that do test, or companies that don’t test.

*There is some debate about whether or not some of these companies are true to their policies. I don’t know if there is any real evidence against them, but I encourage you to do your own research.


3 thoughts on “Cruelty-Free Living on a Budget Part 2: Money Ethics vs. Cruelty Ethics

  1. I’m really torn with animal testing. That might sound strange, but it’s true. I worked for nearly 3 years at the U for the Animal Resources office where they regulate animal testing, so I’ve seen it from the other side. Without testing we wouldn’t have the medicine that we have, the scientific breakthroughs, or be able to preform many radical and life saving surgeries. But, I’m not ok with a final hygiene product being testing unnecessarily on animals. Or testing being done when the outcome is not for a medical/scientific purpose and just for my vanity.

    • Sarah, I agree. Although in theory I’m against animal testing, I still take ibuprofin and fill prescriptions. I wish it were possible to eliminate entirely, but for now, it’s not. That’s why the “setting boundaries” thing was such a struggle for me, because it’s such a difficult line to draw.

      • THings also get tricky when the product you think is cruelty free is only cruelty free on the finished product, but the “soap” they put in your soap is tested on animals. It is a OCD mind blower.

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