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Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Ethical ‘Investment Guide’ by Beauty Without Cruelty


Vegans often battle with their conscience while shopping. The ‘green’ vegetarian symbol has come across as very useful. Yet, many of us wonder – how green is the green? Finding companies that have genuine cruelty-free products can be time-consuming and frustrating at times; what makes matters worse are the deceptive claims made by companies to mislead hapless consumers into buying their products.

It is relatively easier to find cruelty-free FMCGs (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) because of their penetration into our daily lives. But, what about the non-FMCGs such as cement, lubricants, paints, clothes, tyres, and so on? The manufacturers of such products may be exploiting animals to derive parts from their bodies that are profitable for manufacturer's business. Are we inadvertently supporting such companies by investing in them? How do we find out the truth about such companies? That's where the Investment Guide from BWC (Beauty Without Cruelty) comes in.

This well researched Investment Guide compiled with inputs from experts in the field, provides a list of companies that do not support, cause, or contribute towards animal suffering. The purpose of the Guide as clearly stated is, “to help the investor identify companies whose businesses do not necessitate conscious and willful infliction of physical harm, injury, slavery, or death upon any member of the animal kingdom down to the level of insects”. The Guide not only encourages companies that produce cruelty-free products, but also helps us as investors to ensure that we do not inadvertently invest in any company that contributes towards animal suffering. Towards this end, the Investment Guide contains names of BSE500 companies classified under the following four categories:

  1. Companies that do not cause cruelty to or death of animals – These are companies that we can safely invest in.
  2. Companies that may or may not perpetrate cruelty on animals – We need to be cautious about investing in these companies. One example is hospitals that use pharmaceutical products which may not be cruelty-free.
  3. Companies that cause cruelty to and death of animals, for example, certain automobile manufacturers that use cow hide upholstery or paint companies that use bones in their paints. These are companies in which we should refrain from investing.
  4. Companies that directly supply to other companies who perpetrate cruelty on animals, for example, manufacturers of animal feeds supplying to the poultry or aqua industry; or the suppliers of chemicals, auxiliaries, and dyes selling their products to the leather goods industry; and so on. These are also companies in which we should refrain from investing.   
  
How to procure the BWC Investment Guide for the Ethical Investor: To procure a hard copy of this nuanced Guide that assists you in making ethical investments, you can write to BWC at admin@bwcindia.org. To procure a soft copy of the Guide, you can download it from the BWC website by clicking this link.

A call to action: The BWC Investment Guide provides a starting point to align our investments with our values. The above mentioned classifications are fluid and each year the Guide undergoes modifications to reflect the new trends. For example, some companies have moved from the questionable categories to the ‘green’ or ‘appropriate to be invested in’ category because they have satisfied the BWC by withdrawing any practice that caused harm to animals. 

As investors and consumers, we wield considerable power to influence compassionate action on part of profit making companies. We can call or email the company representatives and let them know why they are losing out on a certain section of socially responsible investors. In the same vein, we can let the companies know that we'd be willing to invest more if they expand their cruelty-free line and eliminate suspicious business. There is a good chance that the companies in suspicious categories will be obligated to re-think their strategies with education and awareness reaching a critical mass. Lastly, we can encourage the proven ethical companies and reiterate to them the good job they are doing. It goes without saying that consumer and investor pressure can have a positive impact on animals and the environment at large.

Let’s take a pledge today to invest ethically. The BWC Investment Guide helps us make the start.

“As custodians of the planet it is our responsibility to deal with all species with kindness, love, and compassion. That these animals suffer through human cruelty is beyond understanding. Please help to stop this madness.” ~Richard Gere, American Actor~

For more articles in this blog containing references to BWC, you can click this link.

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Ahimsa Paramo Dharmaha! Non-violence supersedes all other duties! This blog is work-in-progress to make the Earth a little less violent. Are you on the same task as well? Best wishes to you and thank you for reading this post. Do feel free to type in and share any information that you think might be significant to this story.

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