Wednesday, 30 January 2008

The Lovely People on the Path

One of the many joys of my job is meeting people who care.
I've just come off the phone having an almost one hour chat, out of office hours, with the guy who runs the place where some of the waste from our factory goes to.
We couldn't remember today how we came to meet, probably some networking in the waste trade.
From the first time I saw him I empathised with him. I can usually tell the good guys from the bad guys (and have at times, chosen the latter at my own risk ☺ ). Well, he runs this recycling tip which started as skip hire for builders and then evolved into general waste and recycling business. His recycling rate for the yard is 90%!
That means that everything that comes to him is sorted, stripped and salvaged... then turned into something else.
My favourite part when he calls is discussing the ins and outs of the trade. He does it in such a lovely way that many sentences are punctuated by "so your waste can have a low carbon footprint", or "we were going to take it to Slough, but just think of the footprint".
For him to recycle his “bad” wood (contaminated with paint, varnish, etc), he has to pay for his good wood to be taken away. He could easily make more money by selling his good wood and landfilling the bad. People who choose to make less money to follow the best environmental route figure very high up my list.
He's looked into solar-powered lights for the outside of the warehouse, but kept being put off by people saying it was prohibitively expensive.
He feels that it's part of his duty as a waste contractor to help the clients reduce their footprint. So he recommends easy ways of compacting waste, in order to for them to have fewer collections.
That's the kind of thing that just brightens my day! People that regardless of their trade in life are doing their best to do their job in an ethical and caring way.
I think it's our duty as a company to support people like that and make sure that the money we pay for services goes to the hands of such inspiring folk.
Just wanted to share that with someone. :-)

Sunday, 13 January 2008

2007 in a Nutshell

So, one more year is finished. As I complain every year that ends, where did time go? I always have this feeling that time passed and we still haven't managed to do all that which is necessary for the sense of urgency that's looming about. But there is also some sense of accomplishment, sense that we had a good year at Lush and that we are on the right track for ensuring a more sustainable business model that respects people, animals and the environment.
I thought I'd list a few highlights of the year and share some of the work we did:

* Naked Campaign:
100 of our lovely members of staff showed some flesh in July to campaign against excessive packaging and to show that there is an alternative. In the shops, we promoted our naked, unpackaged products through promotions and staff awareness.

* Packaging is Rubbish on Channel 4:
Mark Constantine, the big boss, did an excellent program on Channel 4 discussing our addiction to packaging, how packaging costs the environment and how it costs us a lot of money, too. He showed that for the best-selling shower gel brand, packaging costs 2x or 3x more than the raw materials.

* Palm-oil free soap base:
2007 was also year we made a major industry breakthrough, by working alongside the researched at Kay's Soap (in the picture on the left) we launched the first palm-oil free soap base to be done on large scale. In 2007 we launched only one soap with that base, but have now tested it with all other soaps and we hope to roll out in the whole range in the next few months.

* New Packaging:
We introduced some new and exciting packaging like the popcorn for filling our mail order parcels and gift boxes. We also replaced the bubble-wrap we used internally for something a lot more sustainable: crumpled recycled paper from Easypack. We gave a lot more thought to finding more environmentally packaging and looked into new and recycled materials coming to the shops this January.

* Eco-friendly gifts:
We printed our wrapping paper on 100% post-consumer recycled paper using vegetable inks. New paper ribbons were introduced and some of the items like ballistics and bubble bars went in the box naked, avoiding extra bags. We've wrapped our big naked gifts: Easter Eggs and Supersize Lush Pud in compostable cellulose film. The factory where the gifts are made also ran on 100% renewable energy with Ecotricity this Christmas.

* Green Helpers:
Some shops have one Green Heper, some have a team of them: keen and engaged members of staff, who encourage others to be green and ensure that shops are run to good environmental standards. They come up with great ideas from bringing organic soup to other members of staff to campaigning to get other shops recycling. We also met locally at four different eco places around the country to get everyone inspired and connected.

* Compost at the Factory:
In July, after an arduous search for a waste contractor who would take our organic waste, we started a compost scheme in the factory. All of our veg and fruit peel, herbal infusions, unpopped kernels from popping our own popcorn, floor sweepings, waste solid products gets composted. We produce about one tonne of organic waste per week that we are now diverting from landfill. Our organic waste goes to Eco-composting as part of their in-vessel composting operations. We will continue to avoid landfill as much as possible.

* Bio-diesel from chip fat:
The delivery company that transport goods to shops within 250km of our factory bought a kit for making their own bio-diesel from chip fat! They ran trials and used it in the trucks used for Lush. At the moment, there are problems with the manufacturers of the lorries, who claim they will only guarantee vehicles using 5% bio-diesel. We'll join in the fight and put some pressure to ensure this lovely initiative goes ahead as planned.

We have also been actively reducing the amount of air freight we use. Only a tiny percentage of our raw materials is air-freighted. We still have to air-freight very expensive essential oils which cost many thousand pounds a litre, but that is also being looked into and hopefully we will soon have a no air-freight policy!

In 2008, we keep on reducing the footprint of our processes, reducing our waste and showing that sustainability can be colourful, fun and nice-smelling!