Monday, November 22, 2010

Tom's toothpaste

I wrote in an earlier blog post that while I'd been spending all this time obsessing about buying body washes, shampoos, and other shower supplies that aren't tested on animals, I completely overlooked the fact that I'd been using Crest toothpaste for years which is made by Procter & Gamble, who happens to be one of the biggest offenders when it comes to animal testing. So, I figured I'd give Tom's a try even though I hadn't really enjoyed it all that much when I tried it many years ago. But that was many years ago, so maybe it would be better now, or perhaps my taste buds have matured so that I will now appreciate the subtle flavor nuances that an all-natural toothpaste has to offer.

Well, I was wrong. I still don't like it. Blame it on being used to the artificial flavors and sweeteners and whatever else you might find in a tube of Crest toothpaste, if you'd like. After all, Tom's really does taste all-natural. I can almost imagine the Tom's crew skipping through the meadows of Maine, sporting only loincloths, as they gather up little sprigs of mint, along with a healthy serving of dirt and sticks and other mulch-like ingredients, then grind it all into a paste using only a mortar and pestle. Finally, with the utmost care, they coo and hum in a meditative state as they fill each tube, and hold it proudly in the air as if they were offering it directly to the gods. And it is one of those carefully filled tubes of earth paste that I am now putting into my mouth. It's an honor, really.

I do feel good about the fact that I'm not supporting Procter & Gamble, but I'm instead choosing to give my money to a company like Tom's. But man alive, can't they do anything about the flavor? Does all-natural really have to taste this bad? I'm sorry, Tom's. I appreciate you. I really do. It's not you, it's me. I just have to acclimate, I guess.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ohh, coconut

Finally, I finished off the JASON body wash, which taught me a good lesson. When testing out a new product, I really shouldn't opt for the large, family size bottle because it's a better value. Because it really takes far too long to empty it. But empty it I did, and eagerly purchased a new body wash. It's really remarkable (and encouraging) to see how many companies are now making body wash and other personal care products that aren't tested on animals. So, I scanned the shelf of body wash choices and one immediately caught my eye. A body wash (shower gel, technically) by Shikai, a company whose products I'd seen on the shelves at Whole Foods, but never purchased. There were a number of different scents available, which made the selection process a little tougher, until I saw that they had a coconut scent. Mmmm, coconut. There's something about the coconut scent that just feels like vacation. Maybe it's reminiscent of those suntan lotions that have the same scent, so I'm immediately whisked away to a beach somewhere. And with temperatures outside hitting the freezing level, that little mini tropical vacation is a welcome departure.

So, I made sure that it was indicated on the label that Shikai does not test on animals and the little happy jumping bunny logo was present along with the statement they don't conduct animal testing, nor does the product contain animal ingredients . Price-wise, it's a fair amount more expensive than Alba or JASON, but not outrageous.

I could hardly wait to use it and experience that smell and, as I lathered it on, it was fantastic. The scent of coconut wafted up from my little sudsy shower puff, though certainly not overpowering. In fact, I wouldn't mind if the smell was a bit stronger. It moisturizes as it promised, leaving my skin feeling, well, moisturized. All in all, the Shikai is a very nice shower gel, and I'm eager to try their other scents. Though if I weren't in this testing mode, and I was purchasing products based on both quality and price, I can't say that I'd choose it over one of the Alba body washes, as I feel those are equally as good as the Shikai, if not better, and they're less expensive. But that's certainly not meant to be a criticism of Shikai. I get the impression that they're a much smaller company and likely have higher per unit production costs. So, I'm not going to recommend that someone purchase a product based on price alone, because that kind of mentality ends up being very disadvantageous to the smaller companies that are trying to make great products, ethically. With that said, check out Shikai's shower gels, whether it's the coconut or one of the other scents (I, personally, can't wait to try out their vanilla one, and their gardenia one).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's important to do your research

I was recently made aware of Melaleuca, a company that's been around for a while, but not one that I knew anything about. Apparently, from what I understand, they're a Mary Kay/Shaklee type of business where people can be individual reps to sell their products. And I guess Melaleuca's thing is that their products are environmentally friendly and - I was told - animal friendly. Frequently, these 'green' companies are as concerned about protecting animals as they are about protecting the environment. But for some reason, I was suspicious that Melaleuca may not be as animal friendly as one might assume. Off to the internets!

My first stop, as always, when I have doubts about a company's animal testing policies, is to go to PETA's list of companies that do, and don't, test on animals. Sadly, Melaleuca lives on the 'do test' list. But there wasn't any information about what kind of testing they do, so my curious nature led me to dig a little deeper. Upon further reading, Melaleuca was on the 'don't test' list starting in 1993. However, three years later they commissioned a 'lethal dose' test on rats on a competitor's product, and further tests on dogs for one of their nutritional products.

The article goes on to state that "In a March 2003 letter, Melaleuca freeely admits that it commissioned laboratory tests in which rats and dogs were used, stating, "The rats died a horrible death. … Prior to performing human studies to prove Provex CV's effectiveness, Melaleuca commissioned that the product be tested on dogs first. … In our quest to save life, we refuse to tell PETA that we will never again test our cardiovascular products on animals." I must say that I appreciate the honesty. They feel that they have a justification for testing on animals, fine.

But what is troubling to me is what I found before I came across that PETA article. Now, I understand that you have to take online discussions with a grain of salt, but there are a number of different people that said they contacted Melaleuca to ask them specifically about this issue, and were told that they don't test on animals and were only on that list because they used dog shampoo on dogs. A number of independent reps came to Melaleuca's defense in these discussions using that as their argument. Again, this must be taken with a grain of salt, as online discussion forums are hardly an authoritative source of information. Though it certainly is a reason to try to get in touch with the company directly to find out what the official statement is, which I intend to do. However, either way, I don't plan on using Melaleuca's products because they freely admit that they will test on animals when they deem it necessary.

I will note that in an official statement from the company, they said "Melaleuca has long taken the position that we will not test our personal care or household products on animals. We feel that is the proper position to take, and you will find us adhering to this policy without hesitation. We feel, however, that there are extremes to every argument. We do not adhere to the extremes. … Nor do we take the position that all scientific use of animals needs to be stopped." So, they say they don't test their personal care and household products on animals, which is good, but I'm not completely convinced of that. There are just too many conflicting stories from so many people that I'm just not sure the public is getting the whole story about Melaleuca's products and practices.