I’ve been thinking a lot about Lush Cosmetics lately… I’ve known this brand since forever, as there were always shops in the city where I grew up in Canada. However, I’ve never really shopped there, as I’ve never really bought things with fragrance. Well, now I am a big fan! There are so many things I didn’t know or appreciate about this brand until recently, and I thought I’d pass thing along to you, as you may not have known either.
First, a little background. I had an epiphany (finally) last year: I buy things based on "price" and "brand" (order depends on the product). Now I buy things based on another variable: "ethics." And I've pushed "brand" out. Sometimes I put “ethics” ahead of “price,” and I think of this a bit like a donation to charity. Sometimes I put “price” first, but that’s okay. Often, however, I find I can shop ethically without it being any more expensive than what I was buying before.
I have a good friend who works at Pepsi. I was discussing ethics with her one day, and she said something that may have lead to this epiphany. She said quite simply, “as long as consumers want to buy something, we will give it to them.” Our consumer dollar is very very powerful. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that where we put it has a significant effect on the world in which we live.
Hence I have been doing a lot of research into the ethics of the companies I buy from, especially regularly. In terms of cosmetics, my buying has totally changed. No more MAC, Nars and Chanel. I buy from companies like Lush:
Every Lush product is made by hand.
Lush volunteers to pay the Living Wage (higher than the minimum wage) to all its staff.
Lush has doubled maternity and paternity leave and will pay for 20 hours a week of childcare for primary care-givers who have been with the company at least two years and return to full-time work.
Lush was awarded the Fair Tax Mark. It reports on tax paid in each country, showing an effective rate of 30.5 per cent, compared with UK standard corporation tax of 20 per cent.
Lush refuses to open stores in China because of animal testing regulations. (Though the soap bar above is created to bring to China).
Lush does not buy from companies that carry out, fund, or commission any animal testing. They test their products on human volunteers before they are sold to the public.
Lush products are 100% vegetarian, while 80% are vegan.
Over 40% of Lush products are sold packaging-free. Says Lush, “For most cosmetics, you're paying more for the packaging than you are for the product. Something like seven parts packaging and three parts contents is the norm, and that's just for a branded package of shower gel. I'd like [the cosmetics industry] to stop being subdivision of the packaging industry.”
Lush has phased out its use of sodium palm kernelate, which is often derived from trees in the natural habitat of orangutans and home to tropical forests with overall endangered biodiversity. Since 2008, all Lush soaps have been made with palm-free soap base, and they have since removed all traces of palm oil from the products.
In 2007, Lush launched Charity Pot. One-hundred percent of the purchase price goes into a Charity Pot Fund, which is donated to environmental, humanitarian and animal rights charities. In the first five years, the company donated $2 million to charities through the programme.
The annual £250,000 LUSH Prize is designed to reward individuals working in the field of cruelty-free scientific research, awareness-raising and lobbying to help bring an end to animal testing. Recipients could be scientists, campaigners, lobbyists, training specialists and young researchers.
Lush admits a lot of the campaigning it does has nothing to do with its own business. Far from carefully choosing a few business-friendly good causes, Lush has backed a plethora of controversial causes from Guantanamo prisoners, to hunt saboteurs and the anti-fracking campaign. Such blatant politicisation is a tactic few other businesses in the UK seem willing to replicate.
But it is working for Lush. Worldwide sales in 2016 were £723 million, an increase of 26% over the previous year. The company is projecting 25% growth for fiscal 2017. Maybe more companies will follow suit?