Let’s Talk: Values + Voting with Your Dollar

I don’t particularly like the term “values”. To me, it has this holier-than-thou connotation to which I have an innate negative response. However, it has occurred to me that defining one’s “values” can be helpfully orientating in a very disorientating world. In case you hadn’t noticed, a high priority value for me is animal welfare. The more that I’ve learned about our complex society, the more surprised and alarmed I’ve become about the amount of unethical sh!t that goes down in terms of animal welfare (and in a lot of other arenas, but this is a blog about pets). I’ve been heartened by the recent news stories about the financial and public perception losses of SeaWorld because of the sheer impossibility of providing adequate captive housing and care for animals like orcas.

I bring this up here because we are fortunate to live in a society where information is easily* accessible – “I didn’t know” is no longer a legitimate excuse to not understand the impacts of one’s behavior. I think the world could be a much better place if we were all a bit more critical about what we buy, where we go and how we treat ourselves and others. By acting in a more thoughtful manner, I realized that I can be an advocate for important causes in small ways nearly every day.
*Given a certain socioeconomic level, i.e. access to the internet, libraries and other information resources

The SeaWorld story has highlighted a great way to advocate for the welfare of animals in our society: voting with your dollar. Because of activism and the documentary, “Blackfish”, many people have begun to question the virtuosity of paying to see captive aquatic animals. As a result, it appears that SeaWorld may have to rethink its business model if it is to stay afloat. A smaller but perhaps more broad way to “vote with your dollar” to improve animal welfare is by purchasing cosmetics and household products that do not test their products or ingredients on animals.

Animal testing of cosmetics and household products is certainly a emotive topic for some, which is a big grain of salt to take when researching animal testing. I recommend the HSUS’s info page on the topic or the Food and Drug Administration’s statement on this subject, while keeping in mind the perspectives of these institutions. There is no need to be overly rage-y about this subject: animal testing for cosmetics/household products was previously an important way to identify human hazards but is now being phased out in light of better testing options, animal welfare concerns and established data. I take issue with the term, “cruelty-free” – bringing “cruelty” into the conversation is being a little more histrionic than rational as there are ethical standards in place for all animal testing that ensures lab animals do not suffer unnecessarily. However, one Google image search for “animal testing cosmetics” (do not do this whilst eating) is enough evidence for me that any discomfortable on the part of an animal is not worth something as superficial as a mascara.

Please consider voting for animal welfare by not purchasing products from companies that test their products or ingredients on animals. This doesn’t mean spending a mint – many companies that don’t test cosmetics/household products on animals have very competitive prices! You can find out information about a company’s animal testing status from EWG, LeapingBunny, and PETA’s company search engine


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