In the true spirit of Regeneration, the Sustainable Lush Fund (or SLush) is undergoing a transformation, and becoming Re:Fund. But the switch from SLush to Re:Fund is about more than a name change, writes Katie Dancey-Downs, because this new part of Lush Giving is evolving into something exciting
The new Lush Regenerative Fund, or Re:Fund, has now been launched to support regenerative practices globally; and behind it is the belief that sustainability is simply not enough.
Before Re:Fund, there was the SLush Fund. SLush was originally set up to fund permaculture and regenerative agriculture projects with the aim of supporting them until they could financially support themselves, and a few of these projects also provided ingredients for Lush products. With Re:Fund, the focus is solely on giving.
Lush’s Ruth Andrade is one of the people behind Re:Fund. She says: “I always say that it was humans that got us into the current state of degeneration and it will be the action of humans that will get us out. We need to reclaim our status as agents of Regeneration rather than agents of destruction.”
Ruth says that we can achieve this by giving back more than we take from the natural systems we are part of. That’s where Re:Fund comes in.
The UK SLush Fund has been supporting projects around the world since 2010. SLush North America was launched in 2014 and since it launched, SLush has given a total £4.2 million in funding to permaculture and regenerative projects across the Globe.
After experimenting and learning lessons over the last eight years, the behind-scenes team decided to separate Buying Investments and Giving, and it was time for SLush UK to transform into something new.
“SLush was a very bold experiment, and in the past few years there have been many changes in its aims and how it works. Some of the original SLush groups became ingredients suppliers, others just recipients of donations and other projects are slowly coming to an end,” Ruth explains.
“It felt like the right time to revamp the structures, clarify the aims, and use those learnings to separate our investments in regenerative supply chain projects from our giving.”
Support for ingredients producers isn’t stopping. Instead, it will now be separated from Lush Giving, and will become part of Buying Investments. This means Re:Fund can be fully dedicated to regenerative projects, without ever asking for anything in return from the people it supports.
In North America, the SLush fund will continue, as it already works a little more like buying investments.
“Perhaps, many decades ago, it still made sense just to stop causing damage, but now we need to go beyond that. We need to stop causing damage and also start repairing the damage that has been done,” Ruth says.
She believes that humans have the power to make this happen.
Re:Fund spans across three crucial areas, that all connect together: wildlife projects are supported through rewilding and conservation; the land and environment are regenerated through permaculture and agroecology projects, and work supporting people is funded through responsive projects looking at displacement and disaster.
Ruth explains why Regeneration is so important to a cosmetics company: “Lush, as a business, relies so much on having fertile soils, stable rain patterns, predictable weather, peaceful societies and a thriving green economy. Without this, there is no business.”
But it also just feels like the right thing to do, she adds.
Amongst all this, the Re:Fund team wants to give a platform to inspiring projects, and make their work visible through storytelling.
The team hopes Re:Fund will grow, and can eventually be bigger than Lush itself, so that even more people can be supported in Regeneration efforts.
The Lush Spring Prize
Alongside Re:Fund’s three funding areas, the Lush Spring Prize will give recognition to important Regeneration projects happening around the world.
The Prize, which also comes under the Re:Fund umbrella, is coordinated by Lush and Ethical Consumer Research Association, and recognises the hard work of agents of Regeneration.
Every year, the Spring Prize supports projects across the world that are working towards environmental and social regeneration with a £200,000 total prize fund, which is distributed between 11 projects across four categories.
International experts make up a judging panel for the Prize, and every year there's also a chance for a Lush customer and Lush staff member to become judges.
Find out more about Re:Fund by watching videos from the Lush Showcase, or look out for future stories about Re:Funded projects.
Photo: A school kitchen garden in Uganda supported by Karambi Group of People with Disabilities, which has received SLush funding.