The Great Petition Hand-in!

In fewer than two weeks Lush Staff – from every corner of the world – had collected more than 250,000 signatures for the Fighting Animal Testing petitions.  In Europe we focused the campaigning energy of our shops onto the Humane Society International’s Cosmetics Directive petition.  We are so very proud that with our help the numbers of signatories to their petitions grew to a staggering 350,000 signatures!

With such an extraordinary show of public support – for banning animal tested product throughout Europe – we started to wonder how our hand-in of the petitions might do justice to the extraordinary work done – on behalf of laboratory animals – by our shop staff.

Sitting down with the campaigns team and with HSI and with some of our superstar signature collecting staff we came up with a plan – dressed as bunnies (representing the 27 EU member states) we would go to Brussels to hand-in the petitions to Commissioner Dalli. We would dance and bounce about and make it nigh-on impossible for him to ignore us.  Visit our YouTube channel to see what happened next… Brussels petition hand-in!

Two weeks today…

… Lush and HSI launched the Fighting Animal Testing campaign as the first ever global effort to banish this barbaric and unnecessary practice undertaken for cosmetics.

 

It has so far been a campaign waged on two fronts: on the shop floor internationally by dedicated, informed and enthusiastic Lush staff; and online via the petition and global pledge found on this website.

 

Last Tuesday’s UN World Day for Animals in Laboratories saw co-ordinated stunts internationally, from Vancouver to Seoul, Derby to Dubai; staff climbed in cages, shaved their heads and baked ‘Fighting Animal Testing’ cupcakes, all in the name of campaigning. Our Regent Street shop window performance was part of this concerted effort, with one woman’s public experience representing that of millions of animals in laboratories.

 

The response to these collective actions has been huge. At the last count we had 198,734 signatures for the online petition and are awaiting the addition of all those signatures collected in-store. These will undoubtedly push us well over our 200,000 target.

 

Perhaps most importantly, we are succeeding in opening people’s eyes to the truth behind the (please, excuse the pun) squeaky clean image of the cosmetics industry, its continuing use of animals for product testing and the need to push for wholesale change now.

 

So what next? We will obviously continue to collect signatures online; we hope to visit the European parliament in Brussels with the petition in the next few weeks with a bunny brigade; and then prepare for the second phase of our campaign when we will target the use of animal testing under REACH.

 

In short, watch this space and this brilliant protest song from Luise Leo and Lush South Moulton:

 

From Jaqueline Traide:

It was in trepidation that I took on board this performance but not without respect or understanding of its potential, diverse and far reaching affect.
I am not only a performance artist but also a teacher, a woman, a friend, a consumer, a feminist, a victim of sexual abuse, a student and most of all a fellow human being. A human who seeks to work for freedom through all of my identities.
It was somewhere after the fourth hour of this live act that I found my self asking the question ‘why exactly am i here?’. I realised then that it was not to lush, nor to the onlookers but to the beings, animals and humans alike, that endure such suffering without choice.
I am very aware of the consequences arising out of such a performance and feel it is of great important to stimulate and bring new perspectives and awareness on all levels.

I hope that the emotions and opinions the performance has provoked in people will inspire people to channel these energies into going out and fighting for all these injustices in the world through art, live action, performance, theatre, dance and music as well as an expression through debate – for if not through diverse mediums and the coming together through our many identities and creativity will these things can be changed?

Power, oppression and abuse: performing animal tests

The purpose of a protest is to plant the seed of a public debate. It is possible (and desirable) to control the content of the performance or stunt. But the debate that it generates: the awareness that it raises and the action it inspires is something beyond the control of the performer or of the company who commissioned her.

Lush – as part of our ‘Fighting Animal Testing’ campaign – allowed a performance artist to represent animal testing for the cosmetics industry in our flagship shop. The images were brutal, yet the representation is a fraction of the horror that occurs behind the closed doors of laboratories across the world. It was also a performance – at any moment Jacqui could communicate with us or walk out. Laboratory animals are bred for human use and end their life of abuse as an anonymous victim in a bin bag.

The overwhelming response has been positive – a public grateful to be informed that this archaic practise is still ongoing and that we can all do something to make it end. We have – however – also received criticism for our portrayal of an anonymous victim suffering at the hands of institutionalised violence.

I am the campaign manager at Lush -a committed activist in many social struggles – and this is my personal response to those criticisms:

I am very aware and very sad that campaigning groups (and all sorts of other groups, industries etc) have capitalised on titillating images of women – or worse – on images and storylines that encourage the abuse of women. It is a depressingly simple way to cause a stir whilst reinforcing certain power structures. It is a way of generating ‘attention’ that both I and Jacqui condemn.

Our performance was much simpler and starker than that. We used our flagship shop to put a window onto one form of oppression that all who buy cosmetics thoughtlessly, are complicit in. This is a tough truth to acknowledge and be challenged by but it is also an essential truth for all cosmetics’ consumers to recognise if we are going to have an animal cruelty-free industry.

We did not perform a sexy version of oppression or create a teasing ‘naughty’ campaign. Instead – led by Jacqui’s desire to perform an endurance piece that would respect the actual suffering of millions of animals – we performed a version of oppression in which we are all complicit, to challenge women and men to consider the dark secrets of a beauty industry that insists it exists to make us ‘feel good’.

It was a performance of violence (not violence against women) where – unsurprisingly – the oppressor was male and the abused was vulnerable and scared.

We felt it was important, strong, well and thoroughly considered that the test subject was a woman. This is important within the context of Lush’s wider Fighting Animal Testing campaign, which challenges consumers of cosmetics to feel, to think and to demand that the cosmetics industry is animal cruelty free. It is also important in the context Jacqui’s performance practice: a public art intervention about the nature of power and abuse. It would have been disingenuous at best to have pretended that a male subject could represent such systemic abuse.

Our aim was most certainly not to titillate. The bodysuit was not attractive (however the mainstream media may have presented or written about it). The costume made her an anonymous test subject and stripped her of the accoutrements of sexuality or eroticism. It was horrific from beginning to end and the more so for the actual horror that it intends to represent.

We are sorry if this has hurt women who have suffered sexual violence or assault. It is a horrible compromise that to perform animal testing and abuse could conjure up such distressing lived memories for real women.

However – knowing how much careful thought Hilary, Jacqui, Oliver and myself gave to every moment of this performance, we stand by its intended goal: to challenge public complacency which always allows powerful forces to oppress. And to reject the notion that in any way this was a cheap stunt trading on the objectification of women.

THE HORROR OF ANIMAL TESTING FOR COSMETICS

Watching suffering is horrible. Especially when the suffering is not neutral.  If we watch an animal in pain our humanity forces us to care: do something to help, to lessen the suffering. If that animal is put into a position of pain because of something we did or did not do their suffering is no longer neutral.  In some way their suffering becomes our fault.

The performance that took place in our Regent Street, London shop window was intended to shock.  Jacqueline Traides is a trained performance artist who has undergone similar performances.  She is also a vegan, committed to animal rights, and intent on raising awareness of their suffering at the hands of human callousness or lack of care and thought.

The cosmetics industry has a dark secret.  It is a secret that challenges women across the world.  It is a secret that challenges any woman who nips into a supermarket or a pharmacy and buys a cosmetic that is not cruelty-free (which is the vast majority of cosmetics available on the high street).

 

When a young woman chose to undergo animal tests in our flagship shop window she was choosing to challenge women across the world with this fact that has – for too long – been a silent and ‘unfortunate’ side effect of our daily beauty routines.

Beauty is supposed to make us feel confident and special.  In its best forms it is about telling the story of who we really are, or who we really want to be.  When we are forced to recognise that this aspirational industry depends upon the needless suffering and death of millions of innocent animals – animals that could have been our dog, our children’s guinea pigs, our neighbours’ rabbits – animals that we humanely love – we are shocked and we recoil.  We also are challenged to make sure that animals are no longer the hidden victims of our cosmetics industry.

Jacqueline is an extraordinary performer who was safe and supported through the ordeal.  Our incredible Lush staff stood outside the shop and ensured that children and their families were warned against the spectacle whilst still being encouraged to sign the Cosmetics Directive 2013 petition. We have not added to the pain endured by millions of animals daily: we have only projected a pain that happens behind closed walls into a public shop window on a very public high street.

We know the images are stark, even brutal, but they are images, they are not the reality of a laboratory animal’s suffering. I believe that much of their strength (especially for women who – in the main – are the consumers of the cosmetics industry) is because we empathise with the vulnerability and oppression – as women. It’s horrible to think that the ‘feel good’ beauty industry contains such dark secrets and such helpless victims and it’s even worse to think who is responsible for that suffering. I want to see so many blogs inviting women to consider on what their beauty depends and how we can make the beauty industry better.

Please sign the petition today: www.fightinganimaltesting.com/sign-the-petition

‘Fighting Animal Testing’ is launched so Tamsin hits the streets

Today the Lush campaign ‘Fighting Animal Testing’ launched in over 800 shops and across 49 countries. I went down to Lush Covent Garden to see if I could help gather signatures for the www.fightinganimaltesting.com petition. Their manager Claire lent me a white rabbit suit and so I hit the streets asking shoppers what they would say to humankind if they were an animal:

My favourite BY FAR is a little hard to hear (blame London’s windy streets) so I will transcribe the Italian chick here:

“If I am a hamster I say: please love me!”

You can’t say it straighter than that. Push the petition through all your online channels.  It’s time we banned animal testing for cosmetics.

Tamsin, Lush Campaigns.

Across the UK, across the globe.

Here we are – the evening before my first ever Lush campaign.  This is also the first time I have worked on an animal testing campaign. And wow what a whirlwind of a campaign to be a part of.

Tomorrow marks the first global launch of a Lush campaign.  In over 700 shops, across 49 countries, our boxing hares will be in the windows – proudly announcing that we are ready to fight animal testing. Our staff will be excitedly ready – to grab you, inspire you and then ask you to sign the Humane Society International’s Cosmetics Directive petition.  If you’re reading this you may already have signed it – Thank You.

As a campaigner I have previously worked on environmental and human rights issues.  It has been heartbreaking to be introduced to the world of animal rights campaigning. Humanity – when thinking beyond itself – about our environmental impact, our impact on other people, our impact on other species – is the most extraordinary and optimistic force in the universe.  We can move mountains – we have changed the world and made our society better throughout history – it’s the story of human progress.

There is, however, still so much that could be improved so simply, yet for whatever reason – for apathy or ignorance or the vested interests of powerful people – nothing changes.  Never have I felt this as starkly as when I think about animals who are being tortured and killed so that the cosmetics industry can have unreliable data for toxicity tests.  Some things are difficult to change.  For some things there really is no alternative.  This is not true for animal testing in the cosmetics industry.  This is a human evil that – with public and industry pressure – could end tomorrow.

Please follow this campaign.  Spread it far and wide.  We have been waiting 20 years for the Cosmetics Directive to be fully enacted.  We will wait no more.

Tamsin, Lush Campaigns.

The Fighting Animal Testing Window is In!

Our current window is about making testing cosmetics on animals a thing of the past! Testing cosmetics on animals is just wrong, not only is it cruel but the results are unreliable. The effects of a chemical on a rabbit is completely different from how it is on a human. I find it awful that if the same animal test is conducted twice then it only has a 50% chance of reaching the same result both times, you may as well flip a coin!

The Cosmetics Directive was passed into EU law 20 years ago, and for years there has been delays on its full enactment. Its very annoying at how unfair it is. After the all the hard work that the public did to pressure legislators to stop cosmetics being tested on animals, the law was passed and now the public think its not happening anymore, but the problem is still here!

Lush stands up for the customers right to buy a product that they know is cruelty free, but until this legislation is fully in play the public may buy a cosmetic from a company that is not Lush, expecting it to be cruelty free, when in fact the ingredients were tested on animals.

This is why I urge everyone in to follow this campaign, to sign the petition, sign the window and support us in making sure that the Cosmetics Directive stops this pointless cruelty!

Dan Bage, Manager at Lush Carlisle.

Lush Derby can’t wait for Fighting Animal Testing

I discovered Lush as a customer around 8 years ago. There was a sign in the Derby shop window saying “all of our soaps are vegetarian and most are vegan too!”

As a vegan for 14 years I can definitely say that the companies ethics were what attracted me to the products and to later work for the company.  It’s so important that the Cosmetics Directive 2013 is finally fully enacted. I feel that the public who demanded the Animal Testing Directive in the 80s and 90s have waited far too long already for it to be fully implemented. I also think that a lot of people may not be aware that if this legislation is not fully implemented then laboratory animals could see a further delay until at least 2023.

As we prepare in Lush Derby to run this campaign I can’t wait to be able to give our customers the full information and the opportunity  to sign our petition and protect animals.

Sophie, Manager at Lush Derby