Thursday, November 1, 2007

Lipstick-Less World and Frizzy Hair

My first political action was a fund raiser for PETA. I was 11 when I first learned about the horrendous cruelty of animal testing. I got a group of friends organized to put on a production of Pipi Longstockings - my favorite all time fiction character - and we charged 25 cents admission at our elementary school.

Since then, I have struggled with the dilemma of animal testing. I understand the value these sacrificial lambs have given human kind in the way of medical research, but I never really felt like chemicals and cosmetics could be justified. It always seemed to me that we should know from common sense that chemicals burn, the detergents cause rashes, and the wounds ache. But more to the point, what are the greater impacts of the manufacturing of these compounds? And isn’t it ironic that we spend all this time creating industrialized chemicals, and then have to find a way to neutralize the contact impact? Polluting our air and water all the while? Do these products really bring value to the human experience? What would a world without lipstick look like? Wouldn’t it be sort of fun if we just allowed our hair to be frizzy? And the stain remover never works as well in real life as it does in the commercial anyway. Everybody knows that.

In fact it’s not even necessary to pass on contemporary cosmetics thanks to companies like Burt’s Bees. Oh, but that’s right. Yesterday Clorox (yes, the bleach company), announced it will purchase Burt’s Bees natural product line. You can read the announcement here:

I think it’s interesting to announce selling out like that on the one day of the year when everyone is jacked out on sugar and too busy to watch the headlines. On the other hand, it’s nice that “natural is going mainstream,” as the CEO exclaims in this article. Maybe this is a humanitarian gesture and not capitalist gluttony?

But I liked shopping with a small, independent business with a smaller eco-footprint . And I prefer to not endorse companies like Clorox (as difficult as that is since they own hundreds of household and food product lines).

What do you think about a company that is notorious for the massive production of toxic chemicals and a history of animal abuse buying a cruelty-free and preservative free cosmetic line? Are they joking? Clorox also owns Brita water filters, which is actually laugh out loud funny to me. Here, we’ll ruin your ground water and then you can pay us money to make it potable again.

I’m not going to go down the road of writing about the animal testing industry in this entry. It’s too dark. It’s so sad to me it’s debilitating. So don’t worry about needing to brace yourself for the rest of the read. We might, however, consider becoming more conscious of our consumption. We might want to wonder about how the meat got to the butcher. Before we reach for the product on the shelf maybe we can ask ourselves if this purchase will make the world a kinder place. Does the purchase honor life? Can it bring joy, hope, love? We should know about our risk of becoming so dehumanized as to be capable of looking a living thing in the eye and torturing it…especially when we are at bringing toxins into our homes and feeding them to our children.
Namaste, and Happy All Souls Day.

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