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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

PROBLEMS WITH THE LEAPING BUNNY PROGRAMME.


Hello cruelty-free friends. This post is going to be chatting through the pros and cons of the Leaping Bunny Programme.


HOLD UP... WHAT IS THE LEAPING BUNNY PROGRAMME?
If you're very new to cruelty-free living, the two words leaping bunny may mean nothing more to you than the idea of free bunnies jumping about and living their best life - which is undeniably a pretty great scene to think about.

However, the Leaping Bunny Programme (or LBP for short) is a programme run by Cruelty Free International, who are an organisation that campaign against animal experiments. They do this in a number of different ways - including by lobbying governments to stop testing and to instead fund alternatives, as well as conducting investigations into brands, and also wider education to help people understand why animal experiments are very cruel and very redundant in this day and age.

I respect them massively for all of the work that they do to help animals across the world. They have been huge pioneers in the cruelty-free movement and I really do not wish for this post to come across as me bashing them at all. You can click here to read about some of their amazing achievements in the liberation of animals. 

The LBP awards a little leaping bunny symbol as an accreditation to brands deemed by Cruelty Free International to be cruelty-free. More on this later.

WHY IS THE LEAPING BUNNY PROGRAMME NEEDED? 
I've spoken about this before, including in this video, but I'll give you a quick run down now...

As there is no legal ruling on when you can and cannot use the term cruelty-free to describe a brand or a product, this causes some issues in terms of distinguishing what is truly cruelty-free and what is just tactical marketing to make a product seem cruelty-free.

For instance, a brand may stamp the words AGAINST ANIMAL TESTING on their product, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the product's individual ingredients were not tested on animals by the suppliers, or further up the supply chain. In this specific example, even though it's true that the individual product wasn't tested on animals and that the brand themselves do not test on animals either, buying said product will fund more purchases from the suppliers that do test on animals - and therefore purchasing the product funds animal testing.

See how it can quickly get pretty complicated?

This is where the LBP comes in. It's a way of verifying that a brand is cruelty-free. It brings an element of objectivity to products and their cruelty-free standing. For a brand to have that bunny stamped on their products, they have to agree to do certain things to make sure they are not funding animal testing. These include agreeing to an independent audit of their supply chain, obtaining yearly assurances that no animal testing occurs in their supply chain and so on.

I see the LBP as a brilliant starting point for cruelty free beginners. It gives you a good idea of some more ethical brands to shop with when you first start investigating and building up your cruelty-free knowledge. There are so many brands on the programme that I'm sure there is something for everyone!


SO, WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?
With all that said, the LBP is not without its faults.

Firstly, it doesn't acknowledge which of their approved brands are owned by parent companies that do test on animals. For example, up until recently The Body Shop was owned by L'Oreal. L'Oreal are not cruelty-free. Despite this, The Body Shop has been approved by LBP as cruelty-free for a long time. This lack of clarity of which of their brands are independently owned and which are owned by larger corporations means some people don't trust the LBP and Cruelty Free International's judgement on brands.

Secondly, just because a brand doesn't have approval from LBP, it doen't mean that it's automatically not cruelty-free. It might just mean that it doesn't have the funds to enter the scheme at the moment (for this situation I'm speaking mainly of smaller independent brands who may not have the capital to invest in the programme - but that doesn't necessarily mean they definitely test on animals). Another example could be Lush Cosmetics, who are cruelty-free but don't hold Leaping Bunny status because they are even more strict on their animal testing policy than LBP themselves.

Thirdly, there are many variations of a bunny-type symbol that brands use to 'show' their product is cruelty-free. They stamp some variation of a bunny outline on their product and some people may automatically think this means the product is LBP approved, when it isn't.

A good example of this kind of mix up is the packaging of the well-loved Batiste Dry Shampoo. They are not approved by the LBP, and yet still print a picture of a bunny on their packaging with 'Not Tested On Animals'. A picture of this variation of the logo can be seen on this blogpost by a fellow cruelty-free blogger, with an explanation about how they are not clear on their cruelty-free stance at all. Although this occurance is not Cruelty Free International's fault at all, nor is it really in their power what other brands do with variations of their bunny symbol, it does bring more confusion into the mix. Not ideal.

So there we go. There is my praise and my slight qualms with the programme laid out on the table. No, the LBP is not perfect - but hey, what is? Cruelty-free information is a very mysterious area, with a lot of mixed messages on the internet and beyond, and any organisation that strives to clear this mystery and (most importantly) to help animals is a winner to me. Just needs a little work in my opinion, which will hopefully come with time and with more wide-spread awareness.

What are your thoughts? 

#CRUELTYFREECLUB.

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