I’M TRYING TO HAVE A CRUELTY FREE SHOPPING SEASON: YOU CAN TOO!

NOTE: We know this is a bit late, but keep these ideas in mind for your last minute gifts or even your shopping throughout the new year! It’s never too late to make a difference!

~Calvin & Susie Blogger

I love the holidays. Really I do.

But lately ALL I hear is how few shopping days are left, “what are you going to buy?”, and some version of “I’M SO STRESSED OUT!!!”.

BLERG. (Any “30 Rock” fans out there?)

Amidst all the holiday chaos it’s so easy to just GET THE JOB DONE — designate gift, locate gift, retrieve gift, wrap gift, distribute gift, collapse. Repeat.

Believe me, I’ve been there. But this year I’m attempting to be a little “nicer” than “naughtier” (read: lazy).

But — and you can call this part of a End of Year’s/New Year’s Resolution — I’m trying to put my money where my mouth is a little bit more. We at the store are so committed to finding the most eco-conscious, cruelty free, healthy, and natural products for your pet, that I think I could use a little more of that in the rest of my life. And that extends to gift buying. Blerg again.

I’m trying to have a cruelty free holiday season.

So I took what I know about cruelty free companies and I started shopping. It’s not all easy, and there are days I want to just buy everyone gift cards for Zippy’s and call it a day.

But I am resolute, and every time my sister in law sends me a picture of her bunny, or a friend of mine posts a picture of her pet mice, or I even just watch my cat happily purring on my couch, I am determined to keep my cruelty free holiday commitment.

So I’d like to share with you some of my favorite cruelty free companies — some you may already know and some new ones to consider — to perhaps give you some options or inspiration in your shopping this holiday season!

Bath and Body

Soaps, lotions, and generally nice smelling things are always popular gifts during the holidays. But cosmetics and body care are perhaps the biggest offender in animal testing.

But with a little research, and label reading, you can definitely find companies that do not participate in animal testing. A great place to check out (there’s one in Ala Moana!) is…

LUSH

You’ll recognize LUSH as that store in the mall that you can smell from 30 feet away. Their products are fragrant, bright and come in minimal packaging for not only a homemade style and feel (their company tagline is “Fresh handmade cosmetics”), but also to cut down on their carbon footprint.

This is from “The Lush Non-Animal Testing Policy“:

NO money from Lush goes to companies that test on animals.

We do not just look at the one material we are buying from a company – we look at the companies testing of other materials too. Which means, if we want to buy Glycerine which is not tested, but the company tests other materials on animals, we cannot buy anything from them. If the raw materials company tests glycerine for a food product, even though we want to use it in a cosmetics product, we still cannot buy it from them.

Lush is one of those bath and body companies you can not only feel good about buying from, but you can also be assured that your dollars are going indeed going to a good cause.

Their hand-cut soaps are my favorite gifts as they are colorful, fragrant, and have lots of good oils and ingredients for skin. “Mr. Punch“, a fruit punch soap spiked with gin and juniper, and “Angel’s Delight“, a sweet, citrusy, and refreshing soap, are two of my holiday favorites.

Mr. Punch soap. Courtesy of lushusa.com

NO money from Lush goes to companies that test on animals.

We do not just look at the one material we are buying from a company – we look at the companies testing of other materials too. Which means, if we want to buy Glycerine which is not tested, but the company tests other materials on animals, we cannot buy anything from them. If the raw materials company tests glycerine for a food product, even though we want to use it in a cosmetics product, we still cannot buy it from them.

– See more at: http://www.fightinganimaltesting.com/the-lush-campaign/different-testing-policies/the-lush-policy/#sthash.bcPefk2y.dpuf

NO money from Lush goes to companies that test on animals.

We do not just look at the one material we are buying from a company – we look at the companies testing of other materials too. Which means, if we want to buy Glycerine which is not tested, but the company tests other materials on animals, we cannot buy anything from them. If the raw materials company tests glycerine for a food product, even though we want to use it in a cosmetics product, we still cannot buy it from them.

– See more at: http://www.fightinganimaltesting.com/the-lush-campaign/different-testing-policies/the-lush-policy/#sthash.bcPefk2y.dpuf

Angel’s Delight soap. Courtesy of lushusa.com

I would like to add that buying “cruelty free” body care/cosmetics is very tricky. Know that just because a company says it is cruelty free, doesn’t mean that it’s PARENT company is.

For example, I love The Body Shop, and I’m so tempted to shop there all the time, but I know that even though THEIR products are cruelty free, their parent company, L’Oreal is not.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to say what is truth and what is marketing. My advice, if you are looking for cruelty free cosmetics or body care is to do your research. Leaping Bunny’s website is a great place to start. Look for their logo:

on products for assurance that “…no new animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or suppliers.”

If you really want to dive into the deep of the no-animal testing pool, two of my favorite online stores are Bubble & Bee Organic and Dancing Dingo Luxury Natural Skin Care .

These companies are cruelty free, eco-conscious, all natural, and are small companies run by people who are working to make a difference. Plus, their products feel luxurious, smell great, and are an excellent choice for sensitive skin. Check ’em out!

Bags, Wallets, Shoes

Let me just say for the record that I’m not telling you to get rid of leather in your life. It is a material that is deeply ingrained in our culture, and most world cultures, and for the average person, excising it completely from their life is both impossible and undesirable.

But what most people don’t know is that there are alternatives to leather, some very luxurious, that don’t mean a compromise in style or quality. Here are a few items from some reputable companies that I like. It may surprise you that high end and/or high quality products do not in fact have to sourced from animals:

This “Satchel Bag in Black” from a company called Vegetarian Shoes, and is made from a tough micro fiber material that “flexes, creases, wears and ages like leather”. It retails for $159.95 at MooShoes.com.

Also found on MooShoes.com, was this “Sublime Wallet in Ivy” from eco-friendly, vegan designers Matt & Nat. It’s listed at $70.

Also from Matt & Nat is this professional looking “Verve iPad Sleeve“. Suitable for all models, “Turn back the flap [of the sleeve] and slide it into the strap to transform the cover into a stand.” Retails for $35 on MooShoes.com

If you haven’t noticed, all of the above choices come from a website called MooShoes.com. They are a great place to start shopping for alternatives to animal based products. You can tell by the name, they started off selling primarily shoes, but they have become one of the most reliable retailers (they are online, and also have a brick and mortar in New York) of stylish, up to date cruelty free shoes and “leather” goods.

Local Finds

If MooShoes or Matt & Nat isn’t your style, there lots of other retailers, such as TOMS Shoes, Crocs, and New Balance, that have non animal product options and are easy to find locally. Just go to their website and search for a local location. (Though it should be noted that if you’re being super picky, New Balance shoes do use glue that is an animal product).

And if you’re committed to keeping it planet/animal conscious AND local (hooray!), then check out Super Citizen in Kahala Mall. With men’s and women’s clothing, jewelry, body care, and unique gifts, Super Citizen is committed to shopping with a conscience. From their website:

We methodically think about each product, about how it can help us reduce waste, how we can keep the money in Hawaii, how we can support other local businesses, how we can consciously help other people feel good about their purchases and how we as people who live on an island can help preserve our home.

…Our goal is to offer more sustainable products that will last you a lifetime. Do one green thing a day, it will make a difference and you will feel like a Super Citizen.

Cute non-toxic, eco friendly, cruelty free lunch boxes from Super Citizen. For all the little critters in your life!

I’m really interested in their bags by (h(om)e), that’s really how you spell the company’s name, that are made from re-purposed leather scraps from furniture and jackets. It IS possible for animal products to be mindful and responsible in their production!

And of course, the pets!

Obviously I couldn’t forget the pets in this post!

If you’re looking for some cruelty free gifts for Fluffy or Fido this holiday season, you’re in luck. Animal care with a conscience is becoming not only more and more common, it’s becoming downright a necessity. Because pet owners are becoming more conscious of the choices they are making in their food, clothing, and accessory choices, that awareness is extending to the pet industry.

Of course we want to shop at our store. Many of you may already know this, but we are incredibly picky about what we bring in. Cruelty free, as natural as possible, responsibly sourced — these are all things that are standards for our product choices. Now, I don’t want this to spiral into a one big love letter to, well, OURSELVES, but at this time of the year I do feel it’s necessary to express this to you, our loyal clients.

So please know that when you shop here, every treat, every toy, every shampoo has been researched and scrutinized by our team. We are not perfect, but we’re most certainly trying to be, for our pets!

Now back to the shopping.

So often customers ask us what would make a good gift. Here are some of my favorite products that will satisfy even your most discerning animal activist:

Earthbath shampoos are some of my favorites. They smell great (unless they indicated they that the product is hypo-allergenic and scent free), are bio degradable, can be used on dogs, cats, humans, and are “people-tested, pet-approved”. Best of all their ingredient list is very short and simple, and contains no “parabens, phosphates, pthalates, DEA, synthetic dyes or perfumes. The sudsy runoff is completely safe and will not harm kids, lawns or other living things.”

Planet Dog is a really fun, thoughtful company. Not only are their toys and products attractive and innovative, but you can rely on them to continually make, “an array of non-toxic and recyclable products”.

This lump of minty smelling (yes, it’s minty!) “Coal” is my favorite holiday dog toy. Made in the USA and fully recyclable and non-toxic, it’s the coal in their stocking your pooch will be happy go get.

Himalayan Dog Chews and products are probably one of the most responsibly manufactured and sourced dog treats around. Made only from “100% Yak and Cow Milk. Salt and Lime Juice”, the chews are sourced from animals that are treated humanely.

Cows and yaks are raised in sheds, the way it has been done forever. No modern equipment or techniques are used in raising or milking the animals. They graze on open grasslands or are brought fresh cut grass by their families, and have never been introduced to hormones, prophylactic antibiotics, or other chemicals. Cows and yaks are considered to be sacred life-givers and are directly responsible for the improved economic situation of the family.

Not only is this company mindful of it’s animals, but also the people who make the manufacturing of their products possible:

Currently, we are proud to know that our Beyond Fair Trade policy is contributing to the economic development of the world’s second poorest nation in Nepal. We purchase [directly] from the farmers, and help them make that extra money in one year, that they would have been able to make in five years by selling the chews. As of November 2011, there are over about 900 farmers (family) who make these chews for the Himalayan Dog Chew brand.

Not to mention they are one of our best sellers. They are long lasting, and dogs love them!

And for a locally made gift, that donates back to pet’s in need, look no further than Barking Dog Blankets. Made in Kailua, owner and founder, Ginger makes all of her dog blankets by hand. Not are the blankets colorful and imbued with “aloha”, but they are the perfect size and shape to throw over your chairs or carseats to keep pet hair off. Every month Barking Dog Blankets donates a portion of their earnings to animal rescue organizations either in Hawai’i or on the mainland, making Barking Dog a great way to give back to our fluffy friends.

And let’s not forget the kitties!

These peacock feathers from Imperial Cat are not only beautiful and beguiling to your cat, but they are completely naturally molted.

Imperial Cat is committed to making cat toys and scratchers for your cat that are not only safe and fun, but also “eco-friendly and all natural”.

And on a side note, I think their cardboard scratchers for cats are the best! Significantly fewer cardboard shavings littering the floor and really long lasting! Oh, and they look like this:

Nothing cuter.

And lastly…but most importantly

Please, PLEASE do not buy a kitten or puppy (or any animal for that matter) from a pet store as a gift this holiday season.

Statistically speaking, the majority of the pets given as gifts during the holidays end up being re-homed or given up. Remember that cute little balls of fluff do indeed grow up to be large balls of fluff that require time and care, and though you may be a devoted pet parent, the person you are giving the pet to, may not be so devoted.

More than anything, we beg you, not only as professionals in the pet care industry, but animal rights advocates and pet parents, not to patronize pet stores that support inhumane pet selling practices i.e. puppy mills. If you are ready for a puppy or kitten in your or a loved one’s life, please only buy from a responsible breeder with a proven track record, or adopt from a shelter.

Over two dozen major cities in the United States — including Los Angeles, San Diego, Austin, and Albuquerque — have made it city ordinance that local pet shops cannot sell puppies. There are many of us that are hoping Honolulu will join those ranks.

And when you’re buying gifts for the pets already in your life, please only shop at stores that have humane and ethical practices. Here is the ASPCA’s list of “Where to shop” in Oahu/Hawai’i.

So I hope this has given you some ideas for your holiday shopping. This list isn’t even the tip of the puppy’s tail.

If you’re interested in making some cruelty free decisions in your life, all I can say is to research, research, research. The market for such products changes everyday.

Just know that you have choices, and how you spend your hard earned dollars does matter.

And remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If everyone decided to make even one small change for the better, can you imagine how far reaching the impact could be?

Happy Holidays from the Calvin & Susie gang!

~Your Loyal Calvin & Susie Blogger.

As always, check with your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet or body care. The Calvin & Susie Blogger always researches to the best of her ability, but she is not a vet. This blog is not in any way meant to replace veterinary advice or care. When in doubt always ask a vet.

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