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Eastern students plan pen protest

Students at Bristol Eastern High School are taking strides to help curb product testing on animals by one of the nation’s largest pen manufacturers.

Earthlings, a student environmental group, is sponsoring a “pen swap” next week in hopes of encouraging their peers to trade in pens made by Bic, which tests its ink on animals, with those from Pilot, which does not.

Based on information received from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Internet site, which told of Bic testing ink in the eyes of rabbits and beagles, Eastern sophomore Jen Regan hatched the idea.

“I wanted to collect Bic’s pens, but I didn’t think that people would do it without the incentive,” said Regan, “so I thought up the pen swap.”

Sophomore Sarah DiVenere thought of sending the collected pens back to Bic along with a cover letter and a petition. Jess Mikes, also a sophomore, set to work contacting pen companies, asking about their animal testing policies.

Flo Hansen, Pilot’s public relations director, sent Mikes 1,032 pens, asking for the results in return, for use in the company’s records.

Mikes said Hansen referred to Pilot as “one of the few that doesn’t” test on animals.

The movement took a dramatic turn in late March after receiving information from Bic, which claimed that animal testing is required by
law “…to determine the safety… of any new formulations for… inks or correction fluids.”

“There is no ongoing testing,” the statement says, contrary to PETA’s claims.

After hearing Bic’s response, the organizers decided to find out more.

PETA told them that Gillette, owned by Bic, and Pilot, use older test data so that they can dodge the law mentioned by Bic. With this statement, Earthlings decided to continue with its project.

“If Pilot and Gillette can get around [the law],” questioned Mikes, “then why can’t Bic?”

The April 14-18 swap will initially be contained at Eastern, but if it is successful, Earthlings will try to push the concept at Bristol Central High School, St. Paul’s Catholic High School and even local businesses.

Mikes said that they aim to make a move against product testing on animals in general.

“We’re using Bic as an example,” she said, citing the widespread use of Bic products.

“The first goal of the pen swap is to get people to stop buying from Bic,” said DiVenere.

“The main goal,” added Mikes, “is that through a boycott, we can get them to stop the testing completely.

“I hope it’ll bring about some awareness,” she said.

Brian LaRue is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.

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