A tongue-in-cheek bath bomb campaign may have ruffled feathers in January, but there are serious issues being tackled behind scenes in the way Lush sources the suppliers of ingredients and works with them to develop good conservation and farming practices, writes Simon Constantine.
With their latest Valentine’s range hitting global headlines recently, it brings to mind an old window campaign they ran. It was another tongue-in-cheek fruit and vegetable theme with a 50s housewife holding a cucumber suggestively; a comic sans speech bubble came from her mouth exclaiming: “Ooh, Lush really do put the whole fruit in!” They caused a minor furore with it as it rolled out on the British High Street.
Today things seem to have been made more explicit with the dawn of emojis.
Lush’s links to vegetables go beyond the suggestive marketing, the point originally of their fruit campaign was to remind people that when they say they use a bendy banana, a slender cucumber or juicy melons, that these really do go into their products. They have fresh deliveries of fruit and vegetables to their factories almost every day.
These are peeled, blitzed, boiled or mashed into any number of their products from shampoos to face masks.
Why do they need to labour this point?
Well, this is in stark contrast to many other manufacturers and retailers of cosmetic products. Firstly, they have a manufacturing setup that works to deliver fresh product. They really mean it. In the UK, alone, they bought just shy of 100 tonnes of fresh fruit and veg last year.
They have products that have a short shelf life because they have a benefit to being used fresh; just like the food you eat. Outside of their major manufacturing sites, they’ve set up small scale ‘kitchens’ which make their Fresh products (the SA one is based in Woodstock Cape Town where Misha whips up their Fresh face and body cleansers and Fresh face masks) – those face masks and cleansers kept on ice in store – as close to shops as possible.
In addition they use vast quantities of fruits indirectly.
Let’s take grapefruit as an example. In Cyprus, a once thriving industry of quality grapefruit growers are now beginning to abandon their crops as consumer tastes change. They use the essential oil for perfume which occurs as a by-product of juicing – basically the oil is squeezed from the skin along with the juice and is separated out later, (a process known as expression). As suppliers declined they were forced to explore new sources for themselves. As such Agnes, their hardened essential oil buyer, hit upon working with local Cypriot landowners to buy fruit directly instead of waiting for the oil as a byproduct.
Last week, 500 tonnes of fruit were pressed specifically for their essential oil needs. The juice will be sold off locally and, as is always the case with these explorations, one thing leads to another…
They know for instance through TV presenter and conservationist Chris Packham’s work uncovering the illegal killing of birds, that Cyprus is a hot spot for the hunting of migratory birds. By working with landowners there, they hope to establish No Hunt Zones as they have already done elsewhere. They also have the opportunity to
explore innovations in agricultural techniques to reduce harmful practices, for example pesticide use, and replace it with agroecological practices with the hope of boosting biodiversity.
So, the next time one might think Lush may be acting smutty, it really is more the case that we have a genuine love affair with fresh, natural ingredients that goes a lot further than it may at first
To start your love affair with these fresh, natural, handmade face and body products visit them at here.