The Fine Art of Lessons Learned
My recent learnings:
Lesson 1: a change can happen without being noticed. Therefore, regularly re-evaluating a fact or status quo will help avoid changes to creep in unnoticed.
Lesson 2: a positive statement always requires a negative statement. If a person, a tool, a company says they do something or provide a service, a commitment or a feature, always question them about the things they don’t do, offer, provide or commit.
Lesson 3: your perception of what something means might not reflect the full picture.
I have recently discovered a new app, which allows me to scan the barcode of any product and, if listed in their database, will give me a full analysis of all ingredients and their possible impact on the environment (e.g. Palm Oil). At the same time, it shows if any of the ingredients might pose a health risk, and if so, an easy to understand explanation what the issue with the ingredient is (e.g. unsuitable for people with allergies etc.).
Being a business analyst, I believe it is only natural that I became somewhat slightly obsessed with this new app and I have been scanning nearly every barcode I could find in our household, from anything in the fridge to my cosmetic products as well as the food we buy for our hamster.
Now, apart from being very enthusiastic about business analysis, I am also a very animal loving person, and I have always tried to keep away from products which involve testing on animals before considered fit for human purpose, especially for cosmetic products. Therefore, I was left in a quite disappointed mood when on nearly every single one of my cosmetic products at least one ingredient turned out to say “animal testing has shown that the usage of this ingredient can lead to the following health risks: ……”.
Although animal testing for cosmetic products has been banned many years ago, there are many products containing ingredients which have been tested on animals before this ban was issued, so some of them didn’t come as that much of a surprise. However, there was one brand which left me with two raised eyebrows, and that is The Body Shop.
The Body Shop was (and I thought still is) well known for its strict policy against animal testing, once claiming that neither their products or ingredients were tested on animals, even before the regulatory ban of animal testing for cosmetic products. And I have never questioned if this could have changed. Until now, that is. Showing up in several The Body Shop products I find ingredients which, according to numerous websites on the internet, show cancerous effects when tested on animals. Lesson 1: change can happen without being noticed. Therefore, regularly re-evaluating a fact or a status quo will help avoid change to creep in without being noticed.
The Body Shop is now owned by L’Oreal, who make a similar policy statement on animal testing on their website, ensuring consumers that their products are not tested on animals by L’Oreal and that they do not delegate the task to others (see http://www.loreal.com/sustainability/l'or%C3%A9al-answers/the-question-of-animal-testing).
However, it does not say anything about the ingredients they use. In other words, although the product itself was never tested on animals, they do not commit that their products might contain ingredients which have been tested on animals by someone else, for which ever reason. Lesson 2: a positive statement always requires a negative statement. If a person, a tool, a company says they do something or provide a service, a commitment or a feature, always question them about the things they don’t do, offer, provide or commit.
Until now, when I bought a product which said “against animal testing, no animal testing, not tested on animals”, I always assumed that this is not just true for the product itself, but also for all the ingredients used in it. Lesson 3: your perception of what something means might not reflect the full picture.
I would like to point out that I have questioned The Body Shop Switzerland about the specific ingredients. They however insist that none of their products contain any ingredients tested on animals and that the sources I quoted to them were not reliable. My analysis is therefore ongoing…… additional lesson learned: it is never as simple as it seems.