In his new book Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You, psychologist Sam Gosling reveals how poking around other people’s possessions can offer insights into their personalities. The University of Texas professor sent teams of grad students into strangers’ dorm rooms and offices to analyze their bookshelves, posters, shoes, stuffed animals, CDs and other belongings. All of this stuff, he claims, can tell snoopers whether you are inviting or anxious, cheerful or cranky.Big deal. I can suss out the “real you” just by asking what brands of dish soap and toothpaste you buy.
If you answer Method and Tom’s of Maine, for example, you are a kind soul who cares deeply about the suffering of others. How do I know? Because neither of these companies blinds bunnies in animal-testing laboratories.
It’s hard to believe that in this day and age—when hundreds of responsible companies have banned animal tests forever—some manufacturers are still needlessly maiming and killing animals to test their products. Rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits and other animals are forced to swallow or inhale massive quantities of a test substance or endure the pain of a chemical eating away at their eyes or skin. Some tests, such as the now infamous lethal dose 50 (LD50) test, continue until a predetermined percentage of the animals die.
Animal tests are not required by law, and they often produce inaccurate or misleading results—even if a product has blinded an animal, it can still be marketed to consumers. Fortunately, the number of forward-thinking companies continues to grow, as more and more manufacturers reject cruel and crude animal tests—relics of the 1920s—and opt instead for modern, sophisticated techniques to test the safety of their products. These new test methods are accurate and fast—and no one gets hurt.
Chemical corrosivity, for example, can now be evaluated using a “human skin equivalent” test called Corrositex, approved by federal officials, which uses a protein membrane designed to function like skin. The Irritation Assay System, a simple test-tube procedure that is used by many personal-care companies, has spared millions of animals from painful eye- and skin-irritation tests. TOPKAT is a software package that analyzes the chemical and physical structures of substances to predict toxicity and skin and eye irritation. It is used by the FDA, the EPA and the U.S. Army.
Government regulators in Canada accept the use of a skin-patch test in human volunteers as a valid replacement for skin irritation studies on animals. And human patch tests offer the added benefit of being directly relevant to people—not just relevant to rabbits.
Now that hundreds of companies are refusing to test their products on animals—Avon, Revlon, The Body Shop, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day and Seventh Generation are just a few—there’s no reason for others to continue using outdated blinding and poisoning tests. And there’s certainly no reason for consumers to buy cruelly produced products. Information about which companies do—and which do not—conduct animal testing is easy to find online at sites like CaringConsumer.com.
If we are what we buy, as Snoop suggests, then shouldn’t we all be buying cruelty-free? After all, the next time someone pokes around in your medicine cabinet, don’t you want them to know that you care about more than just the latest shade of lipstick?Ann Marie Dori is the Caring Consumer Project coordinator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.CaringConsumer.com.