One ‘performance’ in particular at the company’s UK flagship store on Tuesday (UN day for Animals in Laboratories) caught most of the media’s attention whereby a girl trained in public sculpture and extreme endurance performance re-enacted what the company says animals go through in cosmetics testing labs.
“The performance represented a fraction of the pain that animals endure daily so that the cosmetics industry can continue testing on animals rather than committing to alternatives and ending product development,” says Lush campaigns manager, Tamsin Omond.
The stunt featured 28 year old Jacqui India being force-fed, having her eye irritated and bandaged and her skin braised and injected with ingredients, all in full view of the public in the Regent Street shop window.
“The torture will end for India when her performance finishes; for the majority of tested animals their torture ends with death,” Omond told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com
According to Lush, since the 90’s, campaigns about animal testing for the cosmetics industry have been all but absent from public life. “It was so important for us to project this issue back into the public eye: to encourage thoughtful and emotional debate and to channel more public pressure for removing all animals from cosmetics testing.”
Across the UK and European Union – where animal testing of cosmetics is already banned – Lush in conjunction with the Humane Society International/ Europe are campaigning to ban the sale of cosmetics tested on animals abroad. A sales ban is due to be implemented in March 2013, so consumers are being urged to sign the HSI’s CrueltyFree2013 petition in Lush stores and online.
The campaigns manager believes this is not the case, “I think that people who dismiss it as a sensationalised performance patronise both Jacqui's and our commitment to the animals and I think they also dismiss the much more extreme suffering that takes place hidden in laboratories to millions of animals each year - so that the cosmetics industry can continue with their business as usual model.”
As Cosmetics Design questioned if the ‘performance’ was the only way to get the company’s message across, Omand says; “It's very difficult to say whether it is the only way to stir up public debate in this fashion - but it certainly is not the only method Lush is using. We are running the campaign for two weeks in every single one of our shops across the world.”
A fair representation of the industry?
Within a day of the UK ‘performance’, the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfume Association issued a statement on its website to the effect of; “It is a pity that Lush chose to run this campaign in a country where the testing of cosmetic products on animals is banned and which has the strictest animal welfare provisions regarding the use of animals for scientific purposes anywhere in the EU.”
The association further published information on the site to inform consumers that a complete ban on the testing of cosmetic products on animals was introduced by the European cosmetic legislation in September 2004, reinforcing the voluntary action by the European industry to seek alternatives and that UK animal testing has not taken place on cosmetic products since 1997 and their ingredients since 1998.
Further pointing out that; "Testing using animals has always been a last resort, not least because of the ethical concerns involved, but it is also expensive and time-consuming. It is a pity the campaign is directed at an industry that has done more than any other to develop and promote the use of alternatives.”
In response to this, Wendy Higgins of the HSI said; “The stunt Lush pulled off had a very specific agenda, the company didn’t set out to talk about alternatives, so it can’t mislead consumers because that wasn’t the intention, the performance was about talking about the problem and Lush is taking part in the solution.”
Omond also responds to the CTPA statement acknowledging that there are alternatives to animal testing, but “What there is not is a willingness from all of the industry to make compromises to end this barbaric practise.”
Cosmetics Europe declined to comment on the matter, referring back rather to the CTPA statement saying they ‘backed it.’ See here for the exclusive interview Cosmetics Design had with the trade association in regards to the animal testing ban in its Brussels Headquarters last month.