At Sekoyia, our goal is to provide our customers with high-quality products that are sustainably produced by organizations dedicated to not only the improvement of our environment, but of the lives that populate it. For that reason, this week we’ve chosen to spotlight Lush Cosmetics, a cosmetic retailer based out of the United Kingdom with a passion for both bettering the lives of all those it touches, as well as protecting our environment.
A Brief History
Most famous for their scintillating bath bombs and fantastical scents, Lush Cosmetics is a company known not only for its success, but its public participation in a multitude of ethical campaigns. Founded in 1995 by Mark and Mo Constantine alongside a handful of close friends, Lush began as a handful of people fashioning soaps and perfumes out of a small bundle of fruits and vegetables worth the last of their savings. Today, the company operates from 925 stores throughout 49 countries, with approximately $900 million in sales in 2016 alone. Furthermore, the company operates as an extension of the ethical values of its founders, donating millions upon to a multitude of charitable, environmental, and humanitarian causes, as well as committing in various other ways such as hunger strikes and advertisement campaigns.
At the age of sixteen, Mark Constantine was cast out of his home by his mother and stepfather, and spent years living in the woods of England. Supported by charity, a job as a hairdresser, and a woman by the name of Mo, Mark partnered with beauty therapist Elizabeth Weir to form Constantine & Weir, a short-lived cosmetics company that was eventually bought out by The Body Shop. With the money from the sale, the duo founded Cosmetics-To-Go, a mail order cosmetics retailer that eventually went belly-up. Using their remaining funds, Mark and his closest associated founded Lush in the upper living space of a small shop in Poole, Dorset.
Packaging With Purpose
Styled more like market stalls than conventional cosmetics shops, people who enter Lush stores are greeted by heaps of bath bombs stacked like fruits, soaps carved like hunks of cheese, all awash with an heady blend of scents and perfumes. However, the decision to present these products sans packaging is not purely an aesthetic one: by selling naked products, Lush manages to minimize waste generation. In fact, a staggering thirty-five percent of their products are sold without packaging. Additionally, their bottled and potted products are sold in recyclable vessels, which may be discarded in recycling bins or returned to Lush stores respectively. Despite the company’s already eco-friendly nature, Lush continually strives to improve: they have since implemented biodegradable packing peanuts into shipped packages, plastic recovered from the sea into their bottles, and even recycled paper into printed copies of their product catalogs.
A Helping Hand
These decisions run deeper than just product packaging, however. Lush takes care to partner itself with suppliers that share their passion for environmental care. The company minimizes the amount of preservatives they imbue their products with, choosing instead to distill their soaps and scents from natural ingredients. These ingredients are sourced from suppliers who provide their workers with ethical and safe working conditions.
That being said, Lush’s commitments to fostering positive global change go much further than within the company itself. In fact, the company has a long history of public involvement with campaigns advocating for the abolition of the fur industry, bullfighting, animal testing, deep-sea trawling, fracking, and more. These campaigns have included hunger-strikes, body-painting performances, posters, and other forms of advertising, all of which have either involved the participation of Lush employees, or have occurred within retail locations.
For instance, the company allied itself with animal rights group AnimaNaturalis to prevent the declaration of bullfighting in Spain as an “Activity of Cultural Value.” This campaign involved multiple public performance pieces, in which participants would dress themselves as the human victims of bullfighting accidents, and resulted in a cumulative total of 147,247 signatures on a petition started by AnimaNaturalis for the Culture Committee of the Spanish Government. Lush also publicly allied itself with Humane Society International, in an effort to ban fur imports into the United Kingdom, as well as to educate people on how to differentiate between fake and authentic fur products. This particular campaign argues that not only is fur far more of a luxury than a necessity, but the industry that produces it is also tremendously inhumane.
In an attempt to spread awareness about the little-known, longevous lifeforms indigenous to the dark depths of the ocean, Lush also allied itself with the BLOOM Association, an NGO dedicated to the care of the ocean. This campaign involved body-painting exhibitions that occurred simultaneously across thirteen retail locations in Europe. Finally, Lush also supported Frack Free South Yorkshire, a group aiming to spread awareness of the harmful effects of fracking, as well as to make known its more environmentally friendly alternatives.
On paper, it may seem as though Lush is on track to save the world! After all, their green care initiatives have not only ensured safer work standards for thousands of people worldwide, but they have also cut back tremendous quantities of waste. However, an overwhelming amount of work remains to be done to truly save our environment. In fact, it is an amount that most people perceive as utterly impossible. But that is most certainly not the case. It is worth remembering that Lush is an extension of one man’s morals and ethics; the company itself is a platform that Mark Constantine has used to help the world move in the direction he believes is best. Although such influence is not accessible to everybody, opportunities to foster positive change are. Even the smallest of steps may give way to change on a grand scale, but this will not happen without the involvement of as many people as possible. Even small things, such as switching to soap bars or bamboo toilet paper, to a stainless steel water bottle or wooden cutlery, will result in the reduction of tremendous quantities of waste if enough people decide that that is a change they are willing to make.
(Cover Photo: theprettysecrets)
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