Digital Ethics

What’s inside counts – whether that’s an ingredient in a product, or the minerals in a smartphone.

If we’re not happy with an ingredient supply chain, we work closely with relevant suppliers to get it right. Why wouldn’t we do the same for our digital practices?

From the hardware we use, to data policies we adopt, it’s time to move away from corporate practices and purchasing, and towards a world where we use tech for good. If that means building our own technology from scratch, that’s what we’ll do.

What happens in the digital world impacts our planet and its inhabitants. But that impact can be positive, if only technology can give more back to society and the environment than it takes away. Let’s champion ethical hardware, ethical data, and open source technologies, whilst supporting and elevating global communities who feel the same.

We want a world where Fresh Handmade Tech is built for regeneration, and not destruction. We’re ready to start a digital revolution.

Lush’s part in fighting against unethical digital practices is not an anomaly. The company is increasingly part of the tech community, providing open source solutions where before only monopolies existed. This is in line with a company ethos that aims to give more than it takes, act transparently, push innovation and raise industry standards. To keep us accountable to the beliefs that we hold true as a technological business, Lush Digital formulated its own set of Digital Ethics Policies to consider every time we design, build or launch a digital product.

This Digital Ethics policies represent a platinum standard that we aim to move iteratively closer to in each decision that we make, they are guiding principles. We do not wish to be draconian in the way that we enforce them but they need to be a conscious consideration in everything that we build and design. In the same way as we know that we cannot immediately eradicated palm oil from all of our cosmetic products, despite acknowledging the necessity to move towards palm free alternatives, we determined these policies to act as a destination that we are continually driving towards.

These policies can be consolidated into three categories that are further detailed below.

Open source

Open source is a concept that we adopt throughout the company, but with alternate phrases to describe the process. For example, if we take our soap bases – we have researched and worked hard to produce a palm free soap base. This is an innovation that we hope and believe will positively impact the global environment and as such we do not wish to keep it just for ourselves. Instead, we have made the palm free soap base public so that other companies can adopt it within their own products. As Lush, we will then go on to add beautiful colours, scents and presentation to make the soap unique to us – we do not make this product recipe public, as this is where we put our own spin on the soap base. Open Source when spoken about within a technical capacity is very similar to the example of the soap base. When we code or develop a digital product that we believe could be valuable to other members of the open source community, we will contribute the code for others to build upon. As with the soap, we may not choose to contribute every element of a build (the differentiating factors that make our product unique), but we will contribute enough to make it of value to other developers.

The open source policy is about embracing the use of open-source technologies in everything that we design, build and release throughout the lush technology estate.

  • We will only use technologies that are released on an OSI-approved license
  • Giving back – we will give back our research and code under an OSI-approved license to the open communities

Ethical Hardware

Electronic waste is one of the fasted growing streams in the world. Over 20 million tonnes of waste electronics are created every year, harming communities, severely damaging ecosystems and generating £45 billion in wasted revenue. Many of the components and minerals that are used to produce electronic devices and white goods are mined from the earth through a series of unsafe and harmful processes for both humans and the environment. In addition to this the majority (85 – 95%) of an electronic devices carbon footprint comes from its manufacturing – if we can reduce, reuse and recycle existing devices this will dramatically decrease our electronic carbon footprint as an organisation. The ethical hardware policy has been established in consideration of the aforementioned issues and focuses on utilising material free from commodity hardware wherever possible, that has high output but a low energy consumption powered by 100% renewable green energy across the globe.

  • We will only use hardware that is conflict material free where possible
  • We will only use commodity hardware that has high output and a low energy consumption
  • We will only host on 100% renewable energy

Ethical Data

In light of cases such as that of Cambridge Analytica, now more than ever people are aware of how critically valuable their personal data is. In its lightest form it is the tweets you post, the photos you upload, the people you DM. In its darkest forms it is a tracker on your identity , an algorithm deciding whether you should be on a kill list . It is our belief that Data Privacy is a fundamental human right. The ethical data policy is about ensuring that all of Lush’s staff and customer data is secure and transparent. Our customers and staff have the right to know what we hold about them.

  • We will ensure all data that is stored on our products or systems is encrypted and secure
  • We will ensure your data can be accessed by you only and those you give permission to
  • We are transparent about how we use customer and staff data.

Saying you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is as selfish as saying you don’t care about people being hungry, because you’re not

Boris Van Zanten (CEO @ TNW)

Further reading

من نحن

Audio player image