Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Pursuit of Unhappiness

Ok, so as you know I was going through the process of attaining my cruelty free certificate with Cruelty Free International.
Over the past 6 months I have put myself and my suppliers through what can only be described as turmoil.
Upon my contact with Cruelty Free International I was given a rundown of requirements, which needed to be met in order to gain the leaping bunny symbol for use on my packaging.
I was informed that every single ingredient had to be certified by not only the supplier/distributor, but also by the manufacturer.
Ok, no problem.
I set about getting all of the papers filled in and sent off the requirements and papers to each of my suppliers.
Now, if you like me, use local supermarkets for certain items (oils, spices, herbs etc) then you will know what a bind it is to write to all of them for the MSDS, let alone a certificate to state that no animal testing was carried out on any one of the ingredients.
Well I did just that.  I wrote to them all, be it in the form of an email or in the form of an actual letter sent in the post.
I got certificates back and sent them right over to the lady who was helping me with my application.
This long, laborious process took me longer than I care to remember and used up a ridiculous amount of man hours, which could have been used to deal with more pressing matters, such as getting orders packaged, making more product, etc.
Literally, hours have been spent pursuing this.

Imagine my absolute dismay then, when after I’d sent over the papers from British Sugar to Cruelty Free International for them to turn around and say,
“Thank you for sending this over.  We don’t actually need declarations for food grade ingredients (Natural Agricultural Ingredients), as they are not subject to animal tests”.

At first, I was relieved after reading this statement, but then I cast my mind back over the past however long it has been, and realised what I’d gone through and how many hours I’d put into something which was not required.
This has angered me more than I care to mention.  I probably should have asked the question, but them being so powerful and professional (?) you may wonder, like I did why they kept such a vital piece of information from me in the first instance.
It is stated in their standards that Natural Agricultural Ingredients need not be certified, but in my eyes this could be seen as hay for all I care! They could have at LEAST told me that most of my soaping ingredients wouldn't need to be certified since they are FOOD GRADE - this would have been much clearer than a one line entry in a paper with so many points to take in.

There’s more.
Firstly, when I applied I was told that I would need certificates from my suppliers and from the manufacturers stating that a ‘finished product’ must not be tested on animals.  I got in touch with one supplier of a base I use in my Sugar Buff scrubs and got confirmation that the finished product was not tested on animals.
I sent over the declaration to Cruelty Free only to be told it wasn’t acceptable.
The manufacturer who supplies the ingredients to the manufacturer needed to also fill in the forms.
This was NOT what I was told to start with.  I was told that only the supplier/distributor & the manufacturer had to sign papers. 
Not the manufacturer’s manufacturer!

As a result I began the process of discontinuing my Sugar Buff formula as it stands, putting all of the stock I had on sale (it is still on sale btw and will be for a short while longer) and informing my customers that a new formula would take its place in due course.  I realised that if I was serious about this whole process that I would have to reformulate any product if they incorporated any ingredient, which couldn’t be 100% certified. 
However, now it seems we are into goal post moving.  Just how far back do they expect you to go here?  Well, all the way back basically.  The requirements have been so vague, and to be honest I feel like many of them have been made up as we’ve gone along.

Important note:
In July 2013, the new cosmetics laws will come into place.  Within the EU, animal testing is banned.  This doesn’t just mean that anybody within the EU cannot test on animals, it also means that any imported ingredients, which may originate from outside of the EU must not have been tested either.
So, my thought process completely turned around as I thought about what difference the ‘leaping bunny’ logo could actually mean to my business now that all animal testing is banned here.  How can Cruelty Free International continue on with a viable organisation/business?

The statement on their website reads: Although companies cannot now animal test new cosmetics products and ingredients for sale in the EU, they can still carry on animal testing for cosmetics sold outside the EU. The Leaping Bunny is a global standard and applies to all of the operations and sales of companies, not just those for the EU.
Yes CF, yes….but what about the fact that the any person within the EU will not be able to import and use any ingredient from outside of the EU, which may have been tested on animals because it is now ILLEGAL?  

I have never and will never test on animals for any product sold anywhere and neither have my suppliers.
If I were a super giant company this ruling may make sense, but I’m not. I’m small fry, I am a one woman operation at present and I work from a little workshop at the back of a beauty salon with no animals around at all, other than the birds!

Honestly, the only thing I have gained more of throughout this whole process is knowledge. At the very least I am very happy with every single supplier I use and can safely say that going forward we can all remain safe in the knowledge that no animals will come to any harm as a result of my products being manufactured and put up for sale.

So overall, my scrubs will be available in the same formula they are in now, along with every other product I make.  There will be no formula change at the moment.  If I decide to change it up a bit in the future, it won’t be because a component has been tested on animals, it will be because I want to make it better in some way.
No other products will be discontinued, which has been a worry this past week.
I thought that if I couldn’t get the fragrance oils certified then scents, such as Rook & Raven would be discontinued along with any other product I make where I use fragrance as opposed to essential oil or even both.
As a result of all of this, I could have ended up with a product line so restricted that it would have been pointless carrying on with FuturePrimitive Soap Co.
I have made my decision wisely.  I have taken my time thinking about it all and I spent time discussing the issues with Matt, whilst at home.  We both agreed that since the organisation cannot offer me or my business something, which would be viable now and in the future there really was no point in putting money into their hands, just for a logo.

So, thanks Cruelty Free, but no thanks.