Vivisection. Just the thought of the pain and suffering animals endure for the testing of our consumer products makes me upset and angry. It’s something that has been an important issue for me for many years prior to becoming vegan. Thankfully, The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC) Leaping Bunny Program also finds vivisection a cruel and unnecessary practice and has done something to empower consumers to make informed choices.
The CCIC’s Leaping Bunny Program’s Logo is an easily recognized symbol for cosmetic, personal care, and household products that are cruelty-free. Here in the U.S., you can shop at countless stores and find the logo on dozens of products. The Leaping Bunny web site, http://www.leapingbunny.org, is a great resource for anyone who wants to purchase products from over 400 compassionate companies. Not only do they provide a downloadable shopping guide for consumers, but they also have a free smartphone app to verify if a product is certified cruelty-free. I have found the app to be useful and a reminder of which companies I’d like to support. In fact, I’ve discovered several different companies by using this logo and use their products on a regular basis.
I recently spoke to Kim Paschen, Communication Manager at Leaping Bunny, about the Leaping Bunny program.
1. How and when did the Leaping Bunny program begin?
By 1996, ‘cruelty-free’ shopping had become popular, but it was also confusing, sometimes misleading, and ultimately frustrating. Companies had begun designing their own bunny logos, abiding by their own definition of ‘cruelty-free’ or ‘animal friendly’ without the participation of animal protection groups.
In response, eight national animal protection groups banded together to form the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) aka The Leaping Bunny Program. The CCIC promotes a single comprehensive standard as well as an internationally recognized Leaping Bunny Logo.
Leaping Bunny celebrated its 15th anniversary connecting compassionate consumers with cruelty-free companies in November 2011.
2. Can you tell me about the Leaping Bunny standard and how it differs from “not tested on animals” signage on products?
The Standard is short for the Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals, a voluntary pledge that cosmetic, personal care, and/or household product companies make to clear animal testing from all stages of product development. The company’s ingredient suppliers make the same pledge and the result is a product guaranteed to be 100 percent free of new animal testing. All Leaping Bunny companies must be open to independent audits, and commitments are renewed on an annual basis.
Many products that claim to be ‘cruelty free’ or ‘not tested on animals’ actually contain ingredients that are tested on animals. Similarly, some companies may state, “We do not test on animals,” when in fact they merely contract other companies to do the testing. Although there are other ‘cruelty free’ lists promoted by individual animal groups, Leaping Bunny is the only Standard that guarantees a product free of new animal testing. The Leaping Bunny list offers the most up-to-date list of companies that have agreed in writing to ban animal testing throughout their manufacturing process (including ingredients!). Leaping Bunny requires verifiable assurances from ingredient suppliers, in addition to an unchangeable date after which these ingredients may not be tested on animals.
3. What animals are most commonly used in U.S. product ingredient testing?
The most commonly used animals include mice, rats, rabbits, and guinea pigs.
4. I’ve seen so much press about how established companies—some of who have been part of the Leaping Bunny program for some time—are taking their products to China and can no longer participate in Leaping Bunny. How can we encourage these companies to stay cruelty-free?
It has been our experience thus far that companies that either already sell or plan to sell in China have announced their decision to us after they made it. China is an emerging market with a great deal of potential for companies to make a lot of money. In a country where alternatives are not yet widely accepted and where animal testing is required, companies that decide to sell there have little choice but to follow the rules. Concerned consumers have been voicing their opinion loudly on this issue and while no company has reversed its decision to NOT sell in China, choosing to purchase from cruelty-free companies is the best way a consumer can send a message that they are against animal testing.
5. What is the Leaping Bunny pledge and how can consumers make a difference for animals by choosing to sign the pledge?
The Leaping Bunny Pledge is a commitment to eliminate animal testing by pledging to only purchase products approved by the Leaping Bunny Program, which provides the best assurance that no new animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or suppliers. To encourage more companies to sign on to the Leaping Bunny Program, we launched a nation-wide pledge campaign to urge consumers to take the leap to cruelty-free products. Signing the pledge will help to make our collective voices even stronger and drive more companies to go cruelty-free, saving animals from cruel and unnecessary testing.
If you haven’t done so already, I would encourage you to visit their web site and take a look at the Leaping Bunny Pledge (http://www.leapingbunnypledge.org). You can also find information, updates, and discussions on their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/leapingbunny. I think this program is a great way to get people educated and engaged in the products they purchase, and to think critically about the decisions they make with their wallets. Thank you so much to the Leaping Bunny folks for providing us with this opportunity to help spread the word to consumers about making wise choices. It’s up to all of us to stand up to these hideous practices and help eradicate them, one purchase at a time.