Nobody wants to see animals get abused just to have the perfect lip color or highlight. Surveys showed that consumers were beginning to prioritize the cruelty-free label. This movement has even been internalized in policy. Over the past few years, the European Union as well as India, Israel, Turkey, South Korea and more have banned animal testing of cosmetics.
However, is being cruelty-free and vegan enough for sustainable and ethical consumerism? YouTube UK Ambassador Rowan Ellis posted a video named “The Truth About ‘Cruelty Free’ Makeup” where she interviews two members of Amnesty International about the issue. Although a firm might not test on animals, it could still have certain ethical issues.
One of them is child labor. The shimmer in our highlighters or in our favorite satin lipsticks usually comes from the mineral mica. Twenty-five percent of the world’s mica is mined in India, where up to 20,000 children are used for labor. Lush, a firm known for its cruelty-free and environmentally friendly products, is one of the companies that uses it. They tried to ban the mineral in 2014 but they realized how essential it is as an ingredient for color pigments and lusters.
But there have been initiatives to eradicate child labor in these mines. Big names such as Estée Lauder, L’Oréal and Yves Rocher have teamed up to bring children out from the mines and into schools instead. Yet, these efforts still have no clear goals, proper timeframe, and government support to eradicate child labor in the long-term.
The truth is we can’t avoid unethical consumerism. Even the biggest brands such as Apple and Sony make use of slave labor to get their materials. In the video, Nick Grono, President and CEO of the Thomson Reuters Freedom Fund, said that we, as consumers, could start by asking companies what their policies are on forced labor. This makes the company aware that this is an issue valued by the public.
Advocacies like buying only cruelty-free and vegan is just the beginning of ethical consumerism. We have to take into account also the humans that are being harmed in the process. Because if we don’t, “cruelty-free” starts sounding like a joke.