Keeping it Real: We Tested on Fish and Coral

Update Feb. 28, 2019 — This is a dialogue reflective of the Stream2Sea formulation and development process. Product testing occurred only in 2015, when a safe formula was created, and is not ongoing. 


Part of Stream2Sea’s business model is total transparency with our followers. In that light, I felt it was important to share more about the tough decisions we’ve had to make about product testing on live species.  We’ve discovered the hard way that just because a product is safe for people doesn’t mean it’s safe in an aquatic ecosystem. The only way to determine if our products are harmful to fish and other aquatic life is to test them on living animals.


From the beginning, I knew that we would have to test on fish and coral to create a product line that would not only limit its impact on our waters, but would set a new standard for future products looking to do the same. It doesn’t mean I have to like it.


Why Live Testing Matters


We need to be able to stand behind our product when we say they are EcoConscious and the most coral reef safe, lake safe and stream safe product line available.  We need to be able to say, “We did the hard testing; we pushed that testing to the highest possible concentrations, and it WON’T kill fish or knowingly harm marine ecosystems.”


There is a very real threat that skin care products are causing damage to the delicate ecosystems in our planet’s waters—and we need to develop products with as much certainty as possible that they won’t hurt the creatures they come into contact with, including coral.


So … we test our products to ensure they will not be harmful to fish and other aquatic life as used. We are adamantly against animal testing where there are in vitro alternatives.  At this time, however, there are no cellular cultures or models to replicate aquatic toxicity testing to the extent we need.


When “Good Enough” Isn’t Enough


Our first shampoos—which I formulated to Whole Foods Premium Standards using what the industry considers very safe ingredients—totally flunked our first aquatic toxicity trials, killing Zebra fish and flathead minnows.  It really sucks but it also made it very clear that “good” wasn’t actually good enough.


We apply the best practices and methods we can to reduce the number of fish used in testing. Even knowing what I know, it wasn’t until our second set of tests when every single fish was still alive after 96 hours swimming (happily, without any changes in feeding habits or behavior) in the shampoo-laced foamy water that I started to really feel comfortable with what I was doing.  I’ve given a lot of thought to this issue – my last company was one of the early signers of the Leaping Bunny program against animal testing, and here I am testing on live animals.  And yes, I actually cried when I heard we killed the first tank of minnows.  Not because my formula that I had spent hundreds of hours working on had failed, but because I killed fish.  I would make a lousy fisherman.


We realize that testing on fish and coral may turn some people away from our products. We completely understand and respect that position—there is nothing you can say that we haven’t said ourselves. Were there proven alternative testing methods that didn’t include live fish or coral, we would be using those instead. But our reefs that get 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen annually can’t wait for that sort of testing to be developed.  We are doing what we can, now, to help lessen our impact in the long run.


After taking every viable precaution, Stream2Sea products WILL be true to their claims.


I thank you for continuing to join us on this journey…because we DO have a choice and we WILL chose to do better. We appreciate your comments, concerns and questions that will help to ensure that we share information that is important to you along the way.

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