In loving memory of Paulo Mellett
I don’t think I’ve met anyone who could completely change your outlook on life quite like Paulo. That’s not to say he was perfect; he could be stubborn, argumentative and a bit petty. So often on trips together he would be 20 minutes late leaving because he was whizzing up some algae infused snozcumber smoothie in his room. One time Agnes found Paulo arguing with another colleague in the carpark about keeping bananas in the fridge.
However, when you travel with people you often find their true character is revealed. And with Paulo, when he let his shine, he lit you up with it. It was impossible not to be infused with his passion and drive for healing the planet. He set a fire in everyone he met, he taught us tirelessly about permaculture, soil, nitrogen fixing, alley cropping, social structure, culture, even spirituality and all that time we questioned “Why do we need to know it Paulo, we’ve got you?”
Now he’s gone. He had a higher purpose. He promised himself and the universe that if he recovered from leukemia he would make what time he had count. In the 15 years following he led marches for Greenpeace against war and climbed the Houses of Parliament to change climate policy. Somewhere around 2009, whilst awaiting trial for taking part in the Didcot Power Station action, Paulo made a connection with Lush. Well actually he made a connection with Ruth, who became his wife. Ruth already had made huge strides in our business, and together their passion and determination was a force of nature. Truly.
Quickly he described that it was time to create a new model. Business, humanity even, didn’t have to be destructive. It can do more than limit its impact. It can be a force for good; it can regenerate, heal and prosper. He didn’t just tell me. He showed me. First we bought cocoa from the Colombian Peace Community, next we supported Paul Yeboah in Ghana where he showed he could create a self sufficient, sustainable business in just 4 years.
Paulo fell ill; a visiting Shaman likened it to a warrior struck down in battle. In the thick of it in Ghana, digging passive water dams he caught malaria. What followed was his greatest fight yet and unfortunately, his last. Encouraged and accompanied by my wife, I visited Paulo for one last time a month before he passed. It was a comfort to tell him how well his legacy of projects were beginning to blossom - geranium, aloe, moringa - simple ingredients providing life lines both to the people and to the Earth through his beautiful design.
It’s painful at best to lose one of your own, but to lose one of a kind is worse still. Good luck Paulo with your next journey, you are much loved and missed in equal measure.
Paulo touched many hearts, if you feel moved too, please share your experiences here or using #peacepioneer
*P.S. A previous version of this article stated that our Amazonian rainforest concession was: 'providing rosewood that we can use in our products'. Unfortunately, at present we are still working hard to make this a reality. Look out for updates in the future!