Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fumbling Towards a Change

Hello friends. I'm so sorry it has been a while since I last posted. In truth, I have been pretty darned busy and blogging definitely fell out of the limelight and into the background.

What was I up to?

I threw a successful and fun shower and bachelorette party for my best friend last weekend. I was pretty consumed by making sure that everything went well and in addition to that, Husband and I had been entertaining houseguests for basically the entire week previous. Needless to say, the combination of those two things left little time for anything personal.

But, the guests have all left, and the party has been thrown, and Husband and I are looking forward to a blissfully open weekend (aside from one family get-together on Saturday afternoon). A little "down-time" is definitely in order.

In addition to these little events, I have also been feeling a larger event in the making deep inside of my heart. For a long time now I have been struggling with making the transition into being the best version of me possible. Although I know that becoming the best you can be takes a lifetime and is probably never really accomplished (because we are just human, after all), I have felt on the brink of making a huge stride in the right direction for some time now.

I have spoken before on this blog about my deep affection for all living creatures. I do indeed have very intense feelings about animal rights and about fighting cruelty and about becoming closer with nature and the Earth, but I realized the other day that I'm being a total poser. Yes, my feelings are legitimate, but I'm not really doing anything about them. The most overwhelming part of the realization was the fact that I had never even thought about that before. It had never really occurred to me that all of my rambling and my hurt feelings and my love for my dogs meant basically nothing on a larger scale.

I needed to take action.

So, I started. I decided first to begin replacing all of my beauty/hygiene products with ones made from natural ingredients by companies who conduct no animal testing. Because I wasn't sure who these companies were, I went looking (where else?) on the internet. I found a website called and another (which I found the most helpful and easiest to use) at The Caring Consumer page is run by PETA and gives a list of all the companies that do and do not conduct animal testing. The second page is run by the National Anti-Vivisection Society and allows you to search by company or product to see if they are using animals for research there.

I was surprised both by how many companies have shunned the practice and by how many companies still refuse to see the light. The truth is that there are many ways of testing beauty and household products that do not rely on dropping chemicals into the eyes of a bunny. Companies that carry on these practices DO NOT NEED THEM. They are completely without merit and oblivious to the plight of the poor creatures trapped in their labs. Yes, some animal testing is required by law, and although I do not like it, I do understand that when a new medicine is released testing on animals can show the possible side-effects that might mean death for those taking it. Companies that do this type of testing are required to do so by the government, so my beef is not really with them. What I am protesting here is the fact that animals are losing their lives because I want to wear make-up. It's a simple and as ridiculous as that.

I urge you all to consider going to one of the websites above to check out which of your purchases are involved in this atrocious practice. You may be pleasantly surprised that you already buy products that are created by enlightened companies. For example, make-up companies like Almay, Revlon, Bath and Body Works, Bare Escentuals, and Smashbox are all created without the use of animal testing. However, companies like Cover Girl, Procter and Gamble, Aveeno, Johnson and Johnson, Neutrogena and many many others are still employing this barbaric technique.

Another line of products that are easy to replace are your household cleaners. This one is a little bit tougher as almost every single cleaning product that is commonly used is created by one or two archaic corporations that refuse to give up their lab rats. However, please keep in mind that not only are these types of products hurting defenseless creatures, they are also hurting all of us by polluting our Earth and ruining our natural water sources. You can check out the lists, but if you use Windex, Clorox, Tide, Pledge, or any of their associated products (plus TONS more) you already own an Earth polluting, animal abusing product. And I'm not trying to make you feel bad about it - I personally have all of those products in my house (much to my dismay).

The important thing to remember is that there are alternatives, lots actually. It may take you an extra trip to a different store, but there are a lot of Earth-friendly, natural cleaning products that are also never tested on an animal of any sort. The products I plan to purchase are found at my local Target store (and I'm pretty sure can be found at any Target):

Method, Inc is an AWESOME company that uses totally natural, biodegradable ingredients and has never participated in animal testing. They are very down-to-earth and all of their products are very reasonably priced. Some other suggestions I've received for similar types of products are Holy Cow, Ecover, and Third Generation. I know that Holy Cow can be found at several grocery chains and Walgreens.

The last bit of change I'm making for now is cutting back the amount of meat I eat. This is not just for purely cruelty-related issues. This decision is actually primarily based on the environment. The meat industry in this country is one of the single largest contributors to environmental issues - not to mention the fact that we could be feeding our country and others much more efficiently if we were using our land for raising crops rather than cattle.

True, if I were totally prepared for this endeavor, I would cut meat altogether. But I'm trying to take my Dad's advice and make "little changes that will stick rather than drastic ones that won't." I do see myself hopefully cutting meat completely from my diet altogether (as this is what my heart is telling me to do) but my head knows that 26 years of meat-eating won't be easy to break. So, rather than eat meat every day of the week, I'm going to cut down to 2-3 times a week.

Also, when I am purchasing meat I am doing my best to search for organic, free range chickens that have not spent their lives in a tiny cage with half their beaks cut off (which is actually what they do). It may be a couple dollars more expensive (example: I paid $15 for four organic chicken breasts at the store, while their non-organic counterparts would have cost me $12)but that price is worth it to me, if it means that the animal was able to live a more natural life before its death. I have also been buying the free-range, vegetarian eggs for quite some time and have been paying attention to which milk brands do not use hormones in their cattle. There are lots of options out there, so if these causes are near to your heart they way they are to mine, very few sacrifices have to be made in order to make a difference.

I apologize if I seem like I'm on my soapbox, but my mind has really been consumed lately with the fact that our environment and our world really are in trouble. We hear it all the time, but we do need to wake up and begin doing our part to ensure that future generations have a viable planet to live on. What's most exciting for me is that I get to establish a lifestyle now that I can pass on to my kids (when I hopefully have them). It is our human responsibility to take care of our planet and the creatures that inhabit it. We may have been given dominion over it by God, but that does not mean we have the right to disrespect the Earth or its inhabitants or to bend them to our will. We have a responsibility for their well-being. We are the only ones who can turn our behavior around, and I'm quickly learning that just a few small changes from all of us is the way to begin doing just that.

Thank you for reading. And please consider looking into some of these things for yourself. They are terribly important, and we would really be doing future generations a disservice if we continue on the way we are. I sincerely hope you are all having a great week so far, and I'll be sure to update you along the way of this journey. I'm certain it won't be entirely simple, but for once in my life, I feel like I'm really heading in the right direction.

Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, "Life is no way to treat an animal." And even though I used to agree, I really think that with some hard work, we can prove him wrong.


midwest princess said...

good luck! from what you mentioned, i think most of the makeup products i use are animal-friendly. definitely not the case for the household cleaners tho. i will check out method for sure!

the shower/bachelorette was awesome. can't wait to see you in two weeks! :)