Saturday, January 7, 2012

Is Burt's Bees and Clorox Cruelty Free?


This is going to be a complicated post regarding Burt’s Bees and Clorox. Burt’s Bees is a company approved by Leaping Bunny. However, Leaping Bunny lists Burt’s Bees with a little purple square signaling that they are owned by a parent company that does animal test. Clorox is Burt’s Bees animal testing parent company.

For a full list of The Clorox Company’s other subsidiaries, click here.

Burt’s Bees is readily available across the US in places ranging from cosmetic shops to grocery stores and my own university’s book store. It is clearly labeled as cruelty free with both the Leaping Bunny image and an additional “We do not test on animals.”

In the FAQ section of their website they state:

“Burt’s Bees does NOT conduct product or ingredient tests of any kind on animals. A few of our products contain ingredients derived from animals such as beeswax, royal jelly, milk and carmine.”

I like how quickly they communicate their policies and let consumers know that they carry vegan products. I emailed their customer service to see what additional information they could provide me and received a lengthy reply:

“Thank you for contacting us with your inquiry. Burt's Bees has never and will never test on animals. We respect animals and don't believe they should be used in this way. It isn't necessary for the development of our products, and it isn't in harmony with our commitment to The Greater Good. We also ask all of our suppliers to uphold our core beliefs, which include no animal cruelty and no animal testing. Additionally, we are certified under the Consumer Information on Cosmetics' (CCIC) Leaping Bunny program. One of the core requirements of the Leaping Bunny program is that the company and vendors are both investigated to achieve certification.

Please note that Burt's Bees operates as a semi-autonomous business unit of the Clorox Company and they are aware of, and fully support, our position on animal testing, as they are also committed to the welfare of animals. For Clorox, animal testing is a rare exception, used only when required by law or when all other efforts have been exhausted to establish a product's safety profile. If you would like to read Clorox's full policy on animal testing, please use the following url: http://www.cloroxcsr.com/products-safety/.

Let me first say, I like that they were upfront about being a subsidiary of a company that animal tests. As you will see later in this post, the second paragraph essentially summarizes the animal testing statement on Clorox’s website. The information provided in the link basically says that they do test but apparently not finished products.

I emailed Clorox’s Customer Service because I was unable to find any information regarding their animal testing policy (I emailed Burt’s Bees and Clorox at the same time so I had not yet been sent the link with this information).

“At Clorox, we are committed to providing consumers with products they can trust when used as directed. Before reaching market, our products undergo rigorous safety testing and careful evaluations by highly qualified, skilled scientists. Except where mandated by law, using non-animal product safety evaluations is the norm at Clorox and animal testing is the exception. The vast majority of our products reach the market without testing on animals.

To further demonstrate our commitment not to use live animals, we recently updated our product safety testing policy to require senior management approval of any discretionary animal testing. Rare exceptions to the no animal testing policy, if any, will only be considered when all other efforts have been exhausted to establish a product's safety profile. The updated policy may be found on our Web site at www.TheCloroxCompany.com in the Corporate Social Responsibility section.


For more than 20 years, Clorox has been assessing alternatives to animal testing and working with industry groups and regulators on the issue. We believe that the science today firmly supports the efficacy of alternatives, and are committed to working toward a future where animal testing has no role in product development.

I do like that Clorox is upfront about the fact that they do animal test (even if it is “the exception”) because so many companies try to hide this information under paragraphs of misinformation. On the other hand there are two major issues for me. Why does this email specify that Clorox does “not want to use live animals?” I’m not any more alright with Clorox if they kill animals and then test on them. Secondly if they believe in “the efficacy of alternatives” why do they still animal test even when it is not “mandated by law?” (Simply because it is not “the norm” doesn’t mean that Clorox only tests for legal reasons.)

I no longer purchase Burt’s Bees products and will now stop purchasing from all of Clorox’s subsidiaries. Although Burt’s Bees is cruelty free, the money I give them goes to Clorox. I would rather spend my money supporting companies and brands that are 100% cruelty free on every level.

This is clearly a case of how comfortable you feel when buying cruelty free products, and I suggest that everyone seriously consider whether or not they believe giving money to Burt’s Bees funds Clorox’s animal testing.

12 comments:

  1. Your information is the most helpful. Thank you very much for contacting those companies! It clarified some confusion and questions I have!

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    1. I'm glad this post helped you! I'm working on a post with tips for contacting companies on your own. Hopefully, that will help you as well in the future.

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  2. Such an important information, thanks a lot! I will definitely NOT buy burt bees, as far as I stopped using The body shop (since it is owned by l'oreal) In the end, there are a lot of cruelty free alternatives out there.

    I think that it is very important for the ones that have a blog to publicite brands that are completely cruelty free. I don`t have a blog, but I try to show my cruelty free products to everyone I know and I am proud of using them. Baby steps ;)

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    1. I'm happy you enjoyed this post!

      It is important to discuss our animal friendly changes with our family and friends especially with cosmetic and beauty products because there are many completely cruelty free brands and cosmetics are not necessary.

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  3. Argh, I find this so frustrating! I hate that these companies with great ethos's are owned by less than stringent parent companies. I can't decide if buying from them is a 'better-than-nothing' approach (since I have previously bought definitely non-cruelty free cosmetics), or if it's simply not good enough! I want an easy life, but I don't think my conscience will allow it. Sigh. I don't really feel like there are a lot of affordable, comparable cruelty-free alternatives though, which in turn makes me sad. I've been blogging a little bit about this (as well as eating a semi-vegan diet - and other things) at http://dontthinkorjudge.blogspot.com/ Definitely pleased to have more information on the brands though! xx

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    1. Hey Rosie!
      I'm hoping to have a new post up within the next month about some affordable cruelty free brands. I know there is probably a wider selection available to the US, and I have a lot of affordable products I really like that are cruelty free but sometimes I have problems finding them vegan as well.

      I'll try to find some brands that are available in Boots (I'm pretty sure there are some brands) but I love vitacost.com! It is super affordable for me and I think is at least worth a look. They have international shipping info but I don't know how the rates compare.

      http://www.vitacost.com/International-Shipping

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  4. I'm looking forward to reading what you have found. I've recently realized that Burt's Bees is owned by Clorox and found you when I went searching. It's all so deceptive, I truly think I may start making all my own products at home so I know the source.
    Thank you for this.

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  6. Can you please help me to understand why some companies whose parent companies are not cruelty free are listed on the leaping Bunny site and why some are not? For example, why is Aveda not listed on the LB anymore but Urban Decay is still listed, even though UD is owned by Loreal?! I'm SO FRUSTRATED. I was told by several people that LB is THE site to look for to be sure...but then I get on their site and see Burt's Bees and UD listed and cruelty free! Argh! Any help, please?

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  7. This is going to be a complicated post regarding Burt's Bees and Clorox. Burt's Bees is a company approved by Leaping Bunny. However ... burtsbeesbaby.blogspot.com

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  8. I recently looked into Burts Bees and saw their answer to the animal testing FAQ. However a quick google search "burts bees china" led me to their Chinese shop-does this not indicate that burts bees tests on animals since any such product entering the Chinese market is subject this animal testing by law? Most companies include that fine print/asterisk in their FAQ answer. To me, omitting it is more deceitful.

    I've also stopped trusting the PETA.ord cruelty free list. I found a few companies on there labeled cruelty free (Burts Bees, Smashbox cosmetics, to name just a couple) that are also sold in china and therefore are subject to animal testing by law. Does anyone know how PETA labels these companies? Is it considered cruelty free if animal testing isn't done in the US? If that is the case, is this right? What's on Leaping Bunny's checklist that makes a company cruelty free? Their site indicates their logo is the only surefire way to know whether or not a company is in fact cruelty free, but what is their process? What makes them so trustworthy?

    Please don't get me wrong-I am grateful for Leaping bunny, and all similar sites that exist to help make this kind of info about a company more accessible. When I look at potential cosmetic/household cleaning supplies LB is one of my first stops. I think, though, that their methods are also worth looking into.

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