If you think you’re too small – and the problem of plastic pollution and waste disposal is too big – to make a difference then as the saying goes, you’ve never been in a room with a mosquito!
One of four Pop Ups being staged to support the Lush 2017 Creative Showcase event in London next month, Naked House is part gallery exhibition and part immersive experience curated by the brand team at Lush to show just how easy it is to make the switch to Naked (as in living with less packaging).
Expect to be equally shocked – when you discover just how much plastic we all use and throw away without stopping to think where it will end up, for example polluting the planet’s oceans, and inspired to see, as you move through this unique exhibition, all the small steps you can take to help make big changes in the way we use and think about packaging.
The message of this event is that the problem of plastic pollution caused primarily by the single use of plastic packaging and the limitations of recycling (recycled plastic has a short re-use life of just two or three reinventions) can be tackled if we simply change the way we think about plastic and treat it as a product we value and cherish instead of something we chuck away in landfill.
But you don’t effect change for the good by smacking people over the head and telling them what they’re doing wrong, rather instead by inspiring a change in thinking and habits and that’s just what the five-floor Naked House showcase has been curated to do.
From struggling through plastic waste when you enter the exhibition to taking a tour through the fascinating history of packaging – starting with the use of leaves to wrap foods and precious goods – Naked House tells the story of packaging past, present and future.
There’s a floor devoted to innovation by other companies, including fashion brands, and a Where Are We Now kitchen; a graphic piece illustrating the current state of packaging waste.
But the piece de resistance lies up on the top floor of the gallery with the design of the Utopian Apartment – a thoughtful curation of bedroom, bathroom, living space and kitchen all put together with the key themes of environmentally-friendly and re-purposed items in mind, from the bed mattress to the comfy chairs.
Much of the curation and inspiration for Naked House has come from the Lush Green Hub whose expert knowledge of zero waste alternatives to plastic, plastic and more plastic, has been an inspiration to those curating the exhibition according to Kirstie MacLean, a member of the R&D/Brand Production team at Lush.
“Putting Naked House together really showed us how much expert knowledge we have amongst both our buyers and our Green Hub Team,” she says. “Not only do they really know their stuff, but they’re all passionate about this topic which is key to our core ethics of caring about the environment and working hard to find sustainable alternatives.”
Her colleague, Nat Cook, Lush Brand Art Director and the person responsible for working with a community of activist artists like Mandy Barker, Barry Rosenthal and Steve McPherson - who all create beautiful artworks from discarded plastics (we’re not talking about an old twig hung with a few bottles and baubles picked up off the beaches here) - to curate the art gallery element of Naked House says the biggest challenge everyone involved faced was ‘keeping it real.”
“The inspiration behind Naked House is the launch of our Naked Products but we recognise that packaging has a value so we’re not saying it’s bad – we’re saying we need to make small but effective changes in the way we use and think about it.
“And keeping it real means finding solutions and alternatives that are affordable for most of us – it’s not about suggesting things through the exhibits that are beyond the budgets of most people.”
Both Kirstie and Nat agree the key challenges in bringing Naked House to life, alongside the one of keeping things real, included tussling with trickier questions like trying to choose between something to include in Naked House that is environmentally friendly versus reusing an item that has a bigger carbon footprint but already exists and so can simply be re-purposed.
And as anyone involved in environmental thinking, campaigning and even just caring about how we take better care of the planet we all share will agree, there are no black and white answers to some of these questions.
“In the end, it comes down to balance and transparency and an exploration of the better possibilities,” says Nat.
Kirstie agrees. “We’re not saying that we at Lush get it right all the time, like other companies we’ve made our share of mistakes, but we try to be transparent and to share that journey of working out better possibilities, including innovating alternatives to packaging, with our customers.”
*The Naked (as in no packaging) House theme ties in with the launch of the new Lush Naked cosmetics range at the 2017 Creative Showcase in September (4th & 5th) which is a celebration of innovation whereby some of your favourite Lush products including lip salves, shower gels, eye colours and body conditioners have all been reinvented to retail and work with zero packaging.
(Words by Susan Clark)