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  1. #1
    Basenotes Junkie daioc's Avatar
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    Default Ethics And Fragrance

    I feel fairly sure this will have been done before but I'm on Tapatalk and searching is not so easy. Apologies to mods if this should have gone elsewhere. Further apologies if this is a contentious subject; I don't want to cause any arguments, just interested in people's opinions on this.

    How important is the ethical basis of a fragrance to people? It was something I was never really interested in, despite being all for animal welfare and environmental concerns in fairly well all other aspects of my life, but as I get older I find it more of a pressing concern.

    The funny thing about fragrance, of course, is that you really have no idea how realistic claims are; I read that Le Labo, Molton Brown and Penhaligon's (and The Body Shop of course, but other than Activist I never smelled one I was even vaguely interested in) are all 'friendly' in this regard so I feel that I should respect them the more for it, but the reality is that I have no idea whether they're actually ethical at all, or just better at making it look like they are.

    Does this sort of thing concern you in the least? Who else are companies that are/claim to be animal and environmentally friendly?
    Last edited by daioc; 30th December 2017 at 08:28 PM.
    Currently wearing: Green Irish Tweed by Creed

  2. #2

    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    Throw ethics along with the IFRA to the bushes and bring me good fragrances dammit! What else are a badgers eyes for if not for enduring a few heavy squirts of an oakmoss laden, crude birch tar sporting scent that rests upon a funky base of beaver secretions!

  3. #3
    hednic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    Quote Originally Posted by daioc View Post
    Does this sort of thing concern you in the least?
    I have thought about it, but don't let it weigh on me.
    Remember that while it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the content of a post - criticizing the poster is not.
    Mean spirited, nasty, snide, sarcastic, hateful, and rude individuals on Basenotes don't warrant or deserve my or other Basenoters' acknowledgement or respect.

  4. #4
    Basenotes Junkie daioc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    quite so, quite so (@palmolive)

    It's not something I get myself exercised about; people are welcome to their opinions on this issue and it's going to go on irrespective of what folk think. As I say, it's just something that plays on my mind more and more as I get older.. and it's, crucially, potentially another way to cut down the amount I buy and sample

    @hednic; that's where I am, yeah. I feel I should be further, but that's where I am.
    Currently wearing: Green Irish Tweed by Creed

  5. #5
    Missing Oakmoss

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    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    I care a great deal about animals, ecology and the environment, but I also realize how little is under our control. We live in a global corporatocracy, where the right hand seldom knows what the left is doing; nothing is straightforward, and brands that are widely recognized as "natural" and humane are owned by (or outsourced to) companies that are anything but. I am in my late 60s and my fragrance collection feels complete - there is much in it that makes me cringe, since all of my vintage favorites owe their existence to flagrant, awful animal abuse. I had some knowledge of that in my early years, but my conscience was not sufficiently engaged to get in the way. As a young person starting out now, I think it would be harder than ever to make informed, ethical and practical lifestyle decisions. We kill microscopic life every time we take a step, and even the act of sweeping the path in front of us (in the manner of the Jains) involves injury on that scale. I don't think there will ever be one-size-fits-all answers to the ethical questions raised by life on this planet, and it pains me to say it. In old age, I'm scaling back on acquisition and experimentation, but that is not necessarily a good solution, either.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    Quote Originally Posted by Palmolive View Post
    Throw ethics along with the IFRA to the bushes and bring me good fragrances dammit! What else are a badgers eyes for if not for enduring a few heavy squirts of an oakmoss laden, crude birch tar sporting scent that rests upon a funky base of beaver secretions!
    Leave my secretions out of it, Mr!

  7. #7
    Basenotes Junkie daioc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    That's a wonderful post, Bonnette
    Currently wearing: Green Irish Tweed by Creed

  8. #8

    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    As Hednic said, I don't let it weigh down on me too much. I try to live life whilst trying not to produce too much waste by being conscious us of what I eat, buy and consume. I hate today's throwaway culture, and I think I'm doing the right thing by buying less often and higher quality items, but I'm not going to fret over whether my few mls of vintage juice contain genuine animal derived ingredients.

    Also, worth bearing in mind is; every single ingredient that is used by people - whether cosmetic, medical or otherwise - has been tested on animals somewhere down the line, and shed loads of companies still test or subcontract the testing since certain markets (e.g China) require for this to happen prior to the release of a product in their country.

  9. #9

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    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    There are many dimensions of ethical.

    If by that you mean no animal products and no species under extinction risk, then modern perfumery is fully ethical. Not because of beliefs, but because of cost.

    In general, I would avoid buying something that involves species at risk (ie if true sandalwood were actually available), but as said this is not a current situation.

    cacio

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    I try to take a sensible approach when it comes to animal-related ethics. For instance I don’t find poultry farming all that ‘ethical’ but I don’t go out of my way to hunt for free-ranging wild chickens when dinner time comes. I do try to avoid buying from companies with dodgy sales & marketing practices.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    Recent purchases of Parfumerie Generale all have information cards which now say No Animal Testing.
    DONNA

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    Are we talking in terms of animal testing or wiping out vast quantities of 'naturals', such as the vanilla plant? Most perfumes are made using synthetics or a combination of synthetics and naturals.

    For me, I welcome the synthetics because I have allergies to many naturals. I have the same issue with cosmetics and 'natural' ingredients in soap, face cream, etc. I'm a huge fan of hanbang in Asian/Korean skincare, but even I have to read the ingredient list VERY carefully.

    When I tried out the 4160 Tuesdays Our Modern Lives perfumes - all naturals and absolutes - quite a number I had to smell from paper only as I couldn't spray them on my skin.

    Now, if we are talking about animals testing...in my youth I used to be a bleeding heart liberal and a member of PETA and vegan....you name it! Not any more. Having lived in farming areas where I saw first hand that many animals on smaller farms are treated ethically, and also having family members working in the scientific and medical fields where R&D is done - I guess what I'm trying to say is there is a darn good reason testing is done on a live animal subject and that is to ensure no harm comes to humans when it has been given the green light for human usage.

    As I myself have gone to the hospital, and have carried an epipen and other medication to include cortisone creams - all for products that are 'natural' and 'not tested on animals' that I end up having allergic reactions to.

  13. #13
    Basenotes Junkie daioc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    I think somebody posted earlier that there's no one single 'ethics' here, everybody who draws a line does so in a different place. Some will say that there's no place for animal testing at all in what's basically a nonessential cosmetics industry; some will say it's going to go on anyway as long as people sell to China so what matter does it make what I think; some will say fine I'll not buy anything by people who sell to China and will restrict myself to the likes of Le Labo or Penhaligon's who make it into approved lists of ethical manufacturers; still others will say, yeah, but approved by who and on what basis, and what about the parent companies?

    I don't think there's a right or wrong answer personally; it's something I think about more and more but I was just interested to read other opinions on the subject.
    Last edited by daioc; 31st December 2017 at 09:20 AM.
    Currently wearing: Green Irish Tweed by Creed

  14. #14

    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    I am not vegan (mainly because I am too much of a pick eater to manage such a diet). We don't eat much meat but still dairy/milk. I buy a lot of organic food and prioritise organic animal products because of animal welfare. As a side note there have been quite a few scandals in the past year or so in France because of undercover videos released by NGOs on the dreadful handling of animals in slaughterhouse. Buying organic doesn't help ( nor for male chicks). Meat consumption has steadily decreased over the past decades (unrelated to ethics) but the agriculture/ food sector is a crucial economic sector. Vegan however was very rare in France up until fairly recently.

    I have started buying non leather handbags (but shoes are trickier). Fur is out of the question (even rabbit trim) and I do not go to circus with wild animals. I buy most cosmetic products from non animal testing companies. In a way with some much information/dubious claims out there it is more complicated but at the same time availability thanks to internet is a blessing. I have to explore options for household products but I try already not to accumulate these anyway. I guess I could do more but I feel that at least I am trying. I understand what some people are saying for the safety of products but I don't see why putting new cosmetic products should be the priority over animal welfare.

    I have only been thinking about perfumes quite recently. If I don't buy cosmetics from companies testing on animals/selling in China it would make sens not to buy perfumes from these houses. I have enough to last me a few years so I will cross that bridge when I get there. Given the evolution of the business (quality/reformulations + prices going up and away), if I add the animal welfarre consideration, I wonder if I will still be using much perfume 10 years from now. Now I must try Parfumerie Générale of course.

    Work in progress !
    Last edited by Parfum de peau; 31st December 2017 at 11:27 AM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    I do apologise for this post going off-piste and not pertaining to fragrance, but I do feel that this is a complex and important topic.

    @Parfum de Peau: I'm a bit similar. I eat meat maybe once a week (I've never been a big meat eater, but love it if done right), and my partner only eats fish after watching a couple of documentaries on farming and all the antibiotics and other stuff that goes into rearing animals to grow as quickly as possible. I don't think the meat consumption (I'm in the UK) has decreased at all - I think the contrary is the case here. The consumption of meat for dinner on a daily basis is the norm here I would imagine. I think the issue also is that meat has become less of a luxury product since the 70s, so demand increased. I'm more than happy to buy organic, free-range and whatnot, but I can imagine that a lot of people on minimum wage cannot afford to do so.

    As one of my Spanish friends put it: If you can buy a whole chicken for €1.50 (in Spain, that is), how good of a life could it possibly have had?

    For animal ethics: I don't have a problem with wearing leather as it's a byproduct of meat production which would have happened anyway, and leather is an incredibly durable and beautiful material. Fur is trickier because most animals are only reared for that, with the carcasses being discarded. I've bought a down duvet from the only retailer that could guarantee that the down is bought from a supplier that retrieves it from dead animals meant for human consumption (a lot of it is plucked from geese and ducks whilst they're alive - go figure). Whilst the price was eye-watering, I accepted it.

    In terms of ethics and the environment overall, I think the reduction of waste is just as if not more important than animal rights. Unimaginable amounts of food are being discarded whilst being processed by the supply chain. I think France has pioneered that any food unsold by supermarkets is donated to charity, which is a great step forward. The UK is slowly starting to follow that approach, with Tesco pledging to end edible food waste next year.

    Truth is, the UK economy relies heavily on consumer spending, which drives people to discard what is perfectly fine and 'upgrade' fairly often. I've known people who bought a new TVs, phones and games consoles on a yearly basis, which boggles my mind. Cars are often leased and changed every two to three years, and the production of a vehicle isn't exactly great for the environment. The gearbox of a MINI travels 2,000 miles and crosses borders 3 times before being fitted to a car, and this is just one example:

    https://www.theguardian.com/business...ini-britain-eu

    Or take fashion. Clothes have become so inexpensive that people don't mend anymore - they discard and buy new.

    I don't know what the answer to all this is - reduce consumption and you may help the environment, but on the other hand, it will have a negative impact on the economy which is now geared towards producing goods and pushing them out of the door at high rates. I myself try to do my bit and ask myself the following question when purchasing something: would I be happy to own this long-term for the next 10 - 15 years or unless it becomes unusable? If not, I don't buy it.

    Tl;dr: Waste is bad, mkay...?

  16. #16

    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    Regardless of a particular house's practices, the majority of materials from which a perfume is composed will have been tested on animals at some point.

    From an environmental standpoint, perfume (be it Fine Fragrance or Functional, e.g. in shampoos, laundry detergents etc) is problematic. Tons and tons of the stuff gets washed down the drain each year and enters the waterways; from there it ends up in other animals. The bioaccumulative nature of certain common compounds (e.g. polycyclic musks) have been highlighted as of particular concern.

    For further reading, check out : Personal Care Products in the Aquatic Environment (links to Google Books)

  17. #17

    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    Similar to the production of meat, milk and so on, it's out of sight, out of mind. If there was a company that goes out of its way to torture animals (and I knew about it) then I wouldn't buy it.

    Otherwise, when seeing programs like Blue Planet which show what we're doing to the oceans and the wildlife, it can make one wish for some sort of plague or some other disaster that will vastly reduce the number of humans and/or make us change our ways
    Last edited by Rüssel; 31st December 2017 at 01:52 PM.

  18. #18
    rogalal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    I do care. But I think conversations in general about ethics in perfume usually center around animal musks (which are mostly banned and almost never used and so uncommon as to be unnecessary to discuss) and issues of perfume wearers bothering chemically sensitive people with our scents (which is probably a whole other thread).

    But the real ethics concerns I have are mostly ingredient-based. As mysore sandalwood got increasingly scarce, murderous gangs developed and it became impossible to buy real mysore sandalwood from anyone who hadn't murdered people for it. It was just insane. I've heard from perfumers who have traveled and done diligent research that it's practically impossible to source real oud that hasn't been collected or processed with child labor.

    It's complicated - in modern, global capitalism, it's almost impossible to buy anything from a big company that hasn't negatively impacted someone somewhere along the supply chain, be it clothing, electronics, diamonds, or whatever. It feels somehow better to buy from independent perfumers who care about such things, but the very nature of them being small businesses means that they generally can't afford to meticulously source ingredients, so an indie perfume is just as likely to contain a chemical that was animal tested at some point in its supply chain, even if they're proudly vegan and would never animal-test their finished product.

    I guess my real answer is that I care, but feel powerless to really do anything or even to be fully informed.
    Has everyone checked out my Top 100 Blog??
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  19. #19

    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    Great post. It's a difficult one to broach around here without throwing the cat amongst the pigeons. I'll try my best to tread carefully, so here goes....

    After recently deciding to go vegan, I too have now reached the point where I have to seriously consider whether my ethics actually mean more than my own self-interested desire of chasing fragrances that I know full-well have been tested on animals or are sold by companies who are willing to sell to regions who do such as mainland China (it should be noted Hong Kong does not operate mandatory testing policies as yet). I know the right thing is to restrict myself to brands who are operating ethically, so I guess the test is whether I will summon the strength to rid my collection of purchases I know to fall foul of that. Even though I know Chanel Egoiste smells damn good, my conscience knows what's up, and it becomes a question of stepping up to the plate and only spending money on the kinds of practices I wish to see in the fragrance industry.

    The deciding factor for me was that fragrance is - by definition - a luxury, and is certainly less important than food or even clothes (I enjoy this hobby as much as others, but facts are facts). So to knowingly wear something involving cruelty - especially in the recent advent of non-animal methods - seems wilfully selfish and is weighing on me more as time goes by. Apologies for any unintended soapbox lecturing here (which would apply to me as much as anyone else), but it's a struggle to think of it in any other terms, especially with the advent of non-animal testing techniques and the emergence of many niche houses adopting cruelty-free as a default-position as Tauer, Le Labo, Arquiste, etc have done.

    The biggest shame of all is: if many emerging niche and boutique brands can do that, then why on earth - with all their millions - can't the designer houses follow their lead and do the same? It really smacks to me of designer houses chasing the dollar above all else. Or the Yuan if you will. The EU banned cosmetics testing, first in 2009, then added to the ban in 2013 (including anything manufactured outside the EU) and this does not appear to have harmed the production of fragrances as far as anyone can tell.

    Again, I understand this is a touchy subject in a forum devoted to fragrance, as well as one as well-moderated as Basenotes. It's a great place to interact precisely because it hasn't been allowed to descend into a flaming cesspit of divisive politics (as so many fora have done elsewhere). But I also feel the subject of animal welfare in fragrances is a massive elephant in the room for the fragrance community, and that - if fragrance companies are listening to and valuing the opinions of said community - there should be an encouragement of those voices pushing these companies to adopt better welfare policies.

    I realise people get defensive when it looks like a minority interest wants to rock the applecart, but this would be a win-win for everyone: we would all get to have our cake and eat it, having our pick of thousands of fragrances that have all been produced humanely.
    Last edited by EasyToAssemble; 15th January 2018 at 11:42 AM.
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  20. #20
    Basenotes Junkie daioc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    Some great posts in here, thanks for your input all
    Currently wearing: Green Irish Tweed by Creed

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Ethics And Fragrance

    I am also greatly concerned about these issues. The environmental impact, harm to animals (including during harvest and the destruction of habitats), bothering or annoying other people, and spending so much on luxuries in a world full of poverty.

    If you don’t think the latter is a moral problem then consider the following example. Suppose you walk by a pond and see a child in the water who is in danger. There is no one else around, and the child will probably die if you do nothing. Suppose also that going into the pond will ruin your clothes, which will cost you around 100 bucks. I take it that most people would say that you ought to save the child anyhow.

    But then suppose that you are about to walk into Sephora to buy (yet another) bottle of perfume. Just outside you are approached by someone from Oxfam. She tells you that for 100 bucks, Oxfam can save the life of a child who would otherwise die from preventable causes. If we ought to save the child in the pond, despite the costs, then the same seems to apply here.

    This is just food for thought. Not looking for discussion. If you are interested in the arguments that can be given on either side, I recommend reading The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer.

    I find the analogy rather convincing tbh. So I am deeply troubled by the fact that I spend way less on charity than what I believe I should, and way more on luxuries than what I believe is justified.

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