How the beauty industry can protect habitats and enhance biodiversity

Lush’s latest campaign explores how cosmetics have the power to rewild your routine and the planet.

As the demand for cosmetic products increases, the result is a growing pressure on our planet’s land and the wildlife that it inhabits. Lush’s ‘Rewild your Routine’ campaign aims to address how the beauty industry is in a position to pivot toward protecting and enhancing biodiversity through its supply chains and how customers can make informed choices that benefit the planet.

“Because of the amount of oils, butters, essences, fragrance materials, flowers and herbs traditionally used in cosmetics, the beauty industry is in a prime position to create a supply chain that works with life and not against it. From creating opportunities for livelihoods on the buffer zones of protected landscapes as alternatives to poaching and deforestation, buying salt from salt pans involved in bird conservation to producing  ylang ylang oil in agroforestry systems, every natural or naturally-derived material we source has the potential to be regenerative.”

Ruth Andrade, Lush’s Earthcare Strategy Lead

Rewild your routine and discover Lush ingredients that support the wild

Ingredient: Portuguese and Croatian Salt 
Product: Big shampoo (£16 / 330g)
Protects: Flamingos

Elevate your hair to help birds take flight. Volumising for the hair and cleansing for the skin, Lush’s sea salt helps birds find a place to rest, nest and feed. Sea birds love salt pans and our suppliers in Croatia and Portugal make sure migrating birds have a safe and friendly place to stop over. 

Ingredient: Sierra Leone Cocoa Butter 
Products: Lush massage bars (from £8.00)
and Charity Pot coin (£1.00 each)
Protects: Pygmy hippos

Rub to relax, help pygmy hippo habitats. The exclusive source of the organic, Fair Trade cocoa butter in Charity Pot Coin, and a mix in all massage bars, is from communities living on the edge of the biodiversity-rich Gola Rainforest in Sierra Leone, home to pygmy hippos. Lush’s supplier supports farmers in protecting and conserving the forest, encouraging farmers to stop deforestation and encroachment on wild land – instead growing in biodiversity friendly ways.

Ingredient: Organic Coconut Oil
Product: Lush Soap (with in-house soap base)
Protects: Turtles

The Organic Coconut Oil in Lush’s in-house soap base comes from Simeulue in Indonesia. Lush’s supplier works with over 500 farmers to grow and harvest coconut sustainably. They also protect marine life habitats, like marine turtle nesting sites.

Ingredient: Bulgarian Organic Lavender Oil 
Product: Sleepy body lotion (£20/ 215g)
Protects: Pollinators

A Lavender lullaby for you and pollinators. Lush’s supplier of lavender oil in Bulgaria uses organic, wildlife-friendly  practices, which means that while the dreamy scent of lavender buzzes you away to sleep, pollinators like bees can thrive in these fields of flowers.

Ingredient: Dark Sumatran Patchouli oil
Product: Good Karma shower gel (£16 for 275g)
Protects: Orangutans

Happy showers for orangutan habitats. With a rich, earthy scent, Lush’s Dark Sumatran Patchouli oil protects a threatened patch of rainforest. Lush’s supplier educates and works with farmers to grow and process this special plant in ways that are in harmony with one of the last wild homes of the Orangutans.

There are many ways to create a business structure which protects life on the planet…

Investing in an economy that protects biodiversity

Lush spends over £90 million on purchasing raw materials from communities and suppliers in 80 different countries.  With this purchasing power comes the opportunity to invest in regions and organisations that can create positive impacts in their areas. Lush’s aim in buying is to go beyond being ‘sustainable’, or actively doing no harm, and towards contributing to the healthy functioning of living ecosystems.

Lush has built this into their ingredients Buying strategy. Over the years, Lush has conducted research to consider key biodiversity habitats and bird migration zones to explore investing in the people and communities who are protecting and restoring these areas.

This has led to the creation of ‘Sourcing Hubs’, where Lush supports local communities in the creation of local entities, to demonstrate how to grow ingredients in ways that are biodiversity friendly and, often, regenerative.

One example of this is a 44 acre plot of land in south east Lebanon, where Lush established a small bitter orange orchard as an example of how the neroli blossom  could be grown in an organic and biodiverse way, in  an area that is also a bird migration route. It is now a no-hunt zone, in order to protect migratory birds from being hunted. Lush funded and supported the planting of over 13,000 trees, and the creation of natural water harvesting structures, like lakes, to promote water for wildlife and to heal the hydrological cycle. The neroli oil from this source can be found in a number of lush products including, Salty body spray, Orange Blossom perfume, and Wig hair trainer.

“We took a degraded piece of land which was eroding away every time it rained -nothing grew on it – and we rehabilitated it. Wild flowers, Rosemary and Lavender now form a meadow in between the bitter orange trees so we’re seeing a lot of wildlife return to the land, and many birds due to the water reservoirs we created looks very Luscious. We’re also employing both Syrian Refugees and Lebanese nationals.”

– Agnes Gendry, Lush Sourcing Hub Manager

These Sourcing Hubs showcase how it’s possible to have good business practices while also promoting biodiversity, and the livelihoods of local people.

Solidarity with Indigenous Communities

From Lush’s sourcing experience, they have seen that indigenous communities are mostly at the forefront of resistance against deforestation for development and expansion of monocultures. In the last few years, the Lush buying team has seen an increasing amount of forest clearance and displacement of people for hydroelectric dams, geothermal extraction and mining on top of  monoculture plantations. In Sumatra this has led to the fragmentation of the Leuser forest in the exact location where the near extinct Tapanuli Orangutan is found. 

Understanding the efforts made by indigenous people to protect forests, it’s devastating they are amongst those most dramatically impacted by climate change, despite contributing the least to its causes. It’s estimated that 500 million people globally rely on forests for livelihood – many of these indigenous people. 

With the Lush product range, they are dependent on 320 unique plant species. These ingredients need pollinators, specific microclimates, soil microbiology etc to exist. Without biodiversity, and indigenous forest management, which covers over 8 billion acres of forestlands – a collapse of such ecosystems could mean crop failure and unavailability of many of the Lush’s natural resources. 

“Talking about territory is not just talking about possession or something material, but rather to talk about everything that involves us within the territory which is our culture, our life, our language and all that we are maintaining with a lot of resilience. An increasing number of illegal activities such as artisanal mining or other illegal activities are approaching the territory and as this approach comes, not only do we lose our territory, but we also lose our culture.”

– Maial Paiakan Kaiapó, advocate of Indigenous and Environmental Rights in Kayapo Territory, Brazil

One of Lush’s most popular products, Sleepy body lotion, contains Tonka bean, an important component of the product’s scent. The source of this Tonka bean comes from a direct relationship with the Kayapó indigenous community of Brazil. Working with this community has enabled Lush to source an ingredient that supports life in the local ecosystem whilst also supporting livelihoods which rely on the protection of the rainforest. 

Tonka Beans | LUSH Buying Story

notes to editor

About Lush

Lush was founded in Poole, Dorset, UK in 1995 by 6 Co-Founders. Lush is driven by innovation and ethics, and is known for inventing, manufacturing and retailing fresh handmade cosmetics, such as the fizzing bath bomb; solid Toothy Tabs and solid shampoo bars.

A campaigning company, on a mission to leave the world lusher than we found it, Lush has and continues to fight animal testing, no Lush product or ingredient used are tested on animals; all raw materials and ingredients come from traceable supply chains; and Lush leads the industry in combating over-packaging by developing products that can be sold ‘naked’ to the consumer. For those products that cannot currently be sold naked, Lush operates a Bring it Back scheme for packaging, rewarding customers for returning packaging to stores to be recycled. Today Lush operates in 53 countries with over 800 shops, 38 websites shipping worldwide and a global network of native apps, broadcasting channels and digital communities in over 30 languages.

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