I first discovered LUSH when I was in middle school. My friends and I would go into the store at the mall and abuse their free sample policy by testing out different products and admiring the vibrant array of bath bombs and soaps they had on display. I never planned on buying anything, but the people who worked there were always welcoming and eager to help with anything we needed. As an increasingly trendy and popular brand, LUSH is making strides in the beauty industry by showing consumers that low to zero waste beauty products can still be high quality and luxurious. LUSH is making significant progress towards environmental sustainability and social justice by campaigning alongside leading organizations to support social and environmental movements, such as fighting animal testing, going palm oil-free, and banning microbeads. LUSH’s focus on individuality and grassroots involvement makes meaningful positive impacts during all stages of production. For example, LUSH works with small-scale farmers in Uganda, Guatemala, Peru, Haiti, and Morocco to grow fair trade, quality ingredients that align with their own values and help support growers, empower women, and form deeper ties to the land and its communities. I was pleasantly surprised by LUSH’s business model and production methods. The more I researched and sifted through their website, the more I admired their constant ethics and dedication to transparency. I was also grateful that all the information I needed was provided through their website.
The ingredients for any LUSH product can be found on their website with an in-depth synopsis of the purpose/benefits of each individual ingredient. The ingredients printed on the container in green are natural, and the ones in black are safe synthetics. Of the 23 ingredients listed for the scrub, 9 of them are synthetic. Some of the key ingredients include fine sea salt, staeric acid, and methylparaben. Sea salt acts as a natural exfoliant, which is an environmentally friendly alternative to microbeads. LUSH sources their salt from Indonesia, where the salt is harvested by hand on the Atlantic Ocean coast. Staeric acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid that improves hair condition and emulsifies the scrub. Methylparaben is an odorless and non-irritating powder that slows the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold, which is very important, given that most of the ingredients are perishable. There is a self-preserving version of the Ocean Salt scrub also, which uses silken tofu, mango butter, and japan wax as natural preservatives instead of Methylparaben. LUSH had originally made all their products self-preserving, but now 35% of their products contain safe synthetics. LUSH also has a YouTube channel where they post videos on how they make and how to use each product. I would highly recommend watching these videos if you want to learn more (plus they're super satisfying). Many LUSH products are zero waste, either being wrapped in cloth or biodegradable bags. The Ocean Salt scrub is stored in a container made of 100% post-consumer recycled material. Gary Calicdan is LUSH North America’s print and packaging buyer and continues to make efforts to reduce LUSH’s environmental and social impacts, such as reducing the amount of packaging in their containers by 30% in 2015. They also promote low-waste behaviors by creating the “take-back pot” program, where customers can receive a free face mask if they return 5 empty LUSH containers.
The Ocean Salt face and body scrub, along with all other products sold at lush, is made by hand by LUSH employees in either their Vancouver or Toronto factory. With this, there are some major labor concerns because with such a high material output, workers are required to lift more than 500kg of dry materials a day without appropriate equipment or protective gear. During the pandemic, PPE was in high demand and the LUSH workers in the Ontario factory were not provided acceptable face coverings for the working conditions. In the LUSH factory environment, workers have a high risk of inhaling airborne particles and chemicals. Because of this, multiple LUSH factory workers have developed exercise-induced asthma. In addition, LUSH North America has launched an anti-union campaign, threatening workers if they choose to unionize. The LUSH Workers United Canada Council has filed an Unfair Labor Practice complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Obviously, LUSH does not include this on their website so they can maintain their “cruelty-free” and “socially responsible” influence. LUSH’s operations are powered by 60% renewable energy, with goals to increase that to 100% in the near future. LUSH has also set explicit goals to have closed-loop process water systems at the factories and support ecological restoration projects in the supply chain to promote a cleaner watershed. These goals remain on their website with no updates on how they plan to implement them. The transportation of goods and products is by far the most energy-intensive process at LUSH. However, LUSH still makes efforts to reduce their carbon emissions by prioritizing lower-carbon impact modes of transportation, such as using cargo ships and freight trains instead of planes.
Every LUSH product, other than the perfume, is handmade by LUSH employees in Vancouver or Toronto. On any bottle or container that you buy, there is a sticker with the name and face of the employee who made that specific product. This sticker also comes printed with the date it was made and the “best by” date. This ensures that the consumer has the freshest possible product to bring home. LUSH sources all their raw materials internationally from small-scale farmers. This allows LUSH to work directly with growers so they can understand the impact their product has on people and the environment. Because of this depth of involvement, LUSH can make responsible business decisions that promote social and environmental sustainability. LUSH supports several humanitarian and environmental movements, such as trans and indigenous rights and environmental restoration efforts. The Charity Pot, one of LUSH’s other products, donates 100% of its proceeds to be allocated to grants supporting human rights, animal protection, and environmental justice.