Don’t be Cruel

What industry produces more greenhouse gases than any other?
  Hint: it’s not the transportation industry!
What country kills more than 100 million animals in laboratories alone every year?
  Hint: it’s not China
Did you know you don’t have to log-on to see Alicia Silverstone naked?*
  Now I know that got your attention!

For the last three months I’ve been sticking to sustainability Sundays, and today will be no different. But today I’m going to talk about animal rights. You’re probably thinking “what rights?”, and I have to admit I see your point, considering, in even most of the developed world, they don’t have any. Furthermore, even in many places where there are animal cruelty laws, they aren’t heavily enforced unless they involve cute little puppies or kitties and the local media makes a story out of it.

And that’s the problem – there’s an utter lack of legislation and directives stating that we care. Today’s consumer is a Gen-X or Gen-Y consumer, and as I mentioned in last week’s post Design for Recycle and, whether or not you want to admit it, we care. And we’ve even convinced most of the Baby Boomers that animals should be treated fairly. (A recent poll by PETA found that 90% of americans feel that farm animals need to be protected about abuses.)

Now, I’m sure most of you are reading this and thinking “we don’t have any contact with animals, so this doesn’t concern us”, but I’m here to tell you You’re Wrong. Do you buy meat or cover meal expenses? Do you buy furniture? Do you buy laptop bags? Do you cover corporate expenses? The answer is yes. All of these decisions impact animals.

Most of us are omnivores. Where are you buying your meat from? Probably the local supplier. Where do they get their meet from? Probably a slaughterhouse. Where’s the slaughterhouse? Chances are it’s somewhere where there are no animal protection programs and where chickens are skinned alive and cows carved up before they’ve bled to death from having their throats slit. I am an omnivore. I do eat meat (although lately I’ve been trying not to eat too much). I believe in your right to eat meat. And I realize that this means we have to ultimately kill animals we raise for food. But face it, serial killers on death row get better treatment – and it’s not like we don’t know how to give them a quick, painless, and (for those of you who only care about the bottom line) cost-effective death.

Furniture … laptop bags … same issues. If it’s leather, there’s a small chance it could be the by-product of a slaughterhouse that doesn’t put it’s animals through cruel, barbaric, tortuous deaths … but there’s a much greater chance it’s from a factory just outside of India’s borders where the cows, like chickens in some places, are skinned alive.

Advertising … if you use animals, you could be promoting abuse. TV animals, like circus animals, don’t live glamourous lives. They are often identified young, snatched from their parents, kept in small cages, and regularly shocked or beaten until they become docile. Then, when they’ve reached the end of their “useful” life, sold to a small zoo somewhere where they get to live out the rest of their lives in another small cage.

Horrified yet? Good. Because you don’t need to be a part of this … and … more importantly … can be animal friendly without increasing your corporate spend. Better yet, animal friendly decisions often decrease spend while increasing brand visibility, product recognition, and consumer loyalty. Today, fake products, such as pleather, are often cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and more durable than the real thing. The same goes for other synthetics.

You have choices. You should use them. And, more importantly, you should tune into Next Level Purchasing‘s new podcast, Purchasing, Social Responsibility, & Animals when it hits the wire on Tuesday. In this podcast, NLP’s President, Charles Dominick, sits down with Stephanie Downs, PETA’s Director of Corporate Affairs, and they dive into the issues in much more detail than I can in this short blog post.

*Unless you’re in Houston. Bad Houston. Bad, Bad Houston.

The King is right.