Saturday, 17 June 2017

Scissors, paper, MICE!

Hello, so you may recall that I said in this blog post that I'm becoming some tree-hugging-animal saving-earth-mama.  Well, since then, I've definitely embarked on quite the project. For me, the lowest hanging fruit was to take a stand against the use of animal-testing in beauty and household products, my belief for this is really that I don't want to give my money to companies that support something I believe is unethical and largely unnecessary. I thought this would be fairly simple, but hey, guess what, it's a HUGE endeavour. Bet you've never thought about all the products in your house that are produced by brands that conduct animal testing. It is, in official and totally quantifiable terms, a BUTTLOAD.

Basically, huge conglomerates own everything and in order to maximise profits, they sell globally and are required by some country laws and regulations to conduct safety checks which include testing their products on animals. A good indication of whether things are tested on animals is if they are sold in China, as laws require it.

Pic taken from Zero Hedge
So, as I embark on this insane journey of obsessive replacing my regularly used product for cruelty-free ones, my commitment is to do my best to eliminate products from companies that conduct animal testing, within reason. What this means is that because I have a mortgage to pay, I'm probably not going to pay like 3 times more for a product just to escape a company that tests on animals, because that wouldn't be sustainable in the long run.

Today, my post is about something that most probably wouldn't spend much time thinking about - paper products. I'm talking about tissue paper and toilet roll! I have a really bad habit of using a lot of paper products, be it to clean my ears after I get outta the shower, or even when pooping (I mean, come on, no one wants to have some one-ply wipe situation. That is just unsanitary and you might as well poke your poop with your finger if so). I'm trying to cut down on how much I use of course because let's save the trees but let's get that pesky animal testing thing out of the way as well.

Anyway, what I've used since forever: Kleenex

Kleenex is a famous household brand owned by Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, one of those giant conglomerates that probably produces a large percentage of your personal and healthcare products. Long story short: They conduct animal testing. (Booo hisss boooo thumbs down!)

Image from the Vegan Rabbit

So I decided I would start looking for cruelty-free companies with paper product brands being sold in Singapore. That was the first challenge. Seventh Generation is a leading cruelty-free household product provider but finding them in Singapore is akin to drawing blood from a stone. Stores in Singapore that carry the line don't carry the tissue paper and toilet roll. But if you're looking for their washing liquids and other stuff, you can try:

  1. Pupsik (I've never bought from this site, don't know if it's legit)
  2. SuperNature
  3. RedMart

I considered ordering from Amazon but the delivery fee would basically bankrupt me so yeah. NO.

To that end, I started looking at brands that I had never heard of, because I guess, if you've never heard of a brand, then it's probably not owned by a conglomerate, right? I started researching "green" brands which are basically suggesting that their use of bamboo products is 'better for the environment' (I'll touch more on this later). The shortlist:

  1. NooTrees
  2. CloverSoft
  3. Dr Blanc
However, on their websites, they didn't mention anything about animal testing (cruelty-free labels don't rank highly in Singapore) so I decided to write to them.

I direct messaged NooTrees via their Facebook account but till today, I've not received a response:

*crickets*
Or maybe there won't be any cricket sounds since they may test their products on crickets for all we know. I was checking out their "About NooTrees" page just to ensure I didn't miss any animal-testing notices and noticed something I've circled in red:

I fixed it for them!

PHOTOSHOP PRO! LOLZ

Anyway, not to be deterred, I also wrote to CloverSoft and Dr. Blanc and oh boy, CloverSoft's customer service officer/s went all out. Below are screenshots from my Facebook of the actual conversation. Ps, read from top left, all the way to the bottom, then  top right, all the way down.
Click to enlarge (I hope it can be enlarged, I've never tried this, you might need a magnifying glass, sorry.)

TL;DR? The summary is:

  • CloverSoft didn't want to test any animals but one product, the CloverSoft Baby Wipes, were required to be tested by regulation. 
  • They say they tested the baby wipes for the first and only time on mice.
  • They say they tested in their Swiss lab and there were no abnormalities or deaths reported (although what's become of the mice was not stated).
  • They conducted human patch tests for skin sensitivity reactions instead of using mice.
  • All other CloverSoft products were free of animal testing.
  • I was pleased to hear this and recommended that, for the ease of the consumer, for them to implement this indicator of "tested on animals" on their website.
  • Within a day of my suggestion, this indicator on their Singapore website was made available (I checked!) 
  • The bottom line is that while they cannot claim to be a cruelty-free company, I believe that they have made efforts to avoid animal testing. (Please note that I forgot to ask whether they hire 3rd parties that do conduct animal testing so this is a grey area).


From scrolling through the CloverSoft website, I came to realise that Dr. Blanc and CloverSoft are essentially affiliated. And Dr. Blanc issued a response to me (albeit a much more delayed one):

Clearly Dr. Blanc is a busy doctor, unlike 'Clovie'
So while I was disappointed with the fact that the CloverSoft baby wipes were tested on mice, I was pleased to hear that the products that I would use were said to be free of animal testing. And I was heartened by how the company had engaged with me and taken my feedback seriously instead of writing me off as a crazy hippie.

I decided that I would try to mix up my purchase and get Dr. Blanc rolls (which are bleached if I'm not wrong) and CloverSoft tissue paper (which are unbleached). But before purchasing, I did one last thing - a price analysis!

Item
Current
Price
Replacement
Price
Toilet roll
Kleenex
$19.45 for 30 ($0.65)
Dr Blanc
$12 for 20 ($0.60)
Tissue paper
Kleenex
$6.10 for 5 ($1.22)
CloverSoft
72.75 for 60 ($1.21)

So it would actually be more cost competitive to buy from CloverSoft and Dr. Blanc! So obviously I had to buy $80 worth of toilet roll and tissue paper (Not. Extreme. At. All). It only makes sense in order to get free delivery. Plus they gave me a coupon (it didn't end up working but I got the first time purchaser $5 discount online). It's practically SAVING money!

This is what $80 worth of tissue paper looks like. Dog for scale.

As for the actual product review, for the Dr. Blanc toilet roll, I am pretty pleased. It's not as thick nor smooth as the Kleenex (the dotted pattern might be the reason for it) but it serves its purpose and it doesn't feel like I'm sand-papering my butt. The CloverSoft tissue paper is rougher than the Kleenex but it's nice to know I'm not dabbing bleached tissue on my face and bonus, my soul feels soothed knowing that I'm not complicit in the act of animal cruelty.



We're nearly at the end of this post! Hahaha who would have guessed I could talk so much about something so seemingly unexciting! Sadly, laws and regulations change all the time, so I'll always need to keep in mind that the animal testing status can change.

One last note, if you're tempted to buy these because of their "green" status. Do check out some articles here and here about "green-washing".  At this time, I don't really know where I stand on this because I can't say I know enough about the science behind it, but I think it's important to at least read up more, and not immediately buy into the marketing spiel.

Thanks for reading!

In case you need a kick in the butt to remind you why animal testing sucks, read this and then watch this.

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