Beauty buzz words floating around the aisles include ‘organic’, ‘clean’, and ‘sustainable’. We feel like we are doing the ‘right thing’ by choosing such products, which, ideally, will also do the ‘right thing’ for our skin concerns or aesthetic desires. Dig a little deeper, however, and you discover some companies going the extra mile to make a difference – to the planet.
Global cosmetics company LUSH looks beyond sustainability to regeneration. It funds start-up permaculture operations, one of which in Ghana has seen 150 farmers complete a course on permaculture principles. The benefits are two-fold. Local farmers are empowered through education and employment and the business can be confident its supply chain is free from unsustainable farming practices and slave labour. Similarly, one of LUSH’s sources of baobab oil is produced by a group of women who have all suffered abuse of some kind.
Australasian Director of LUSH, Peta Granger, started as a sales assistant for the Dublin office 17 years ago. During this time she has seen the company grow to 933 stores, 10 of which are in New Zealand. None are in China, where the government insists on animal testing of all imported cosmetic and skincare products. However, when its ‘New’ clove, cinnamon and peppermint infused shampoo bar was a hit with Chinese tourists, the company created a ‘#BeCrueltyFree’ emblazoned wooden insert for the he product. The insert also carries a message in Mandarin to encourage consumers to find out more about animal testing.
The now 23-year-old cosmetics company started its journey with a bath bomb – loaded with glitter. Glitter is a micro-plastic, something known to cause harm to the ocean and marine life. Founded by animal lovers and environmentalists, the only option was to fill the gap and develop a micro-plastic free bath bomb. The resulting eco-glitter – made from seaweed and synthetic mica – costs five times more than its plastic cousin, but it’s worth it, notes Peta. For similar reasons, LUSH created a palm oil free soap base, and the formula has been left deliberately unpatented in case other companies wish to follow suit. “It’s not enough to not use it – you need to be part of the solution,” says Peta.
From backing the same-sex marriage vote in Australia, to helping those campaigning against the detainment of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, LUSH has become more than just a go-to for bath products. Every global sale (excluding tax) of LUSH’s Charity Pot Hand and Body Lotion goes into its Charity Pot fund which, 10 years on, has donated more than £20m to grassroots charities that support human rights, animal protection and environmental conservation and regeneration.
By being an educated consumer you can support those whose aim is not only to leave the smallest footprint possible, but look beyond today to the future of the next generation.
Above & Beyond
L’Oréal was recently named among the world’s most ethical companies, for the ninth time, by the Ethisphere Institute. Its US branch has been recognised as the top performing global company on sustainability in 2017. In 2009, it was Estée Lauder brand Origins that established the first container recycling programme in the cosmetic industry, and now the likes of Kiehl’s and MAC offer a similar service. New Zealand’s own Plantae Organic Skincare includes only ingredients that are 100% organically certified.