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The Only Way is Ethics

We have a vision of the perfect company that we should be, but which we never quite arrive at.

Lush Ethics Director Hilary explains our campaigning roots

So you are the Ethics Director at Lush, but I know that none of you like calling Lush an ethical company. Why is that?

Becoming bigger and more established has meant we can put extra time, money and effort into getting things right – but we have a vision of the perfect company that we should be, but which we never quite arrive at. We keep it in sight and work towards it.

How did you get to become Ethics Director?

Before I came to Lush, I was a campaigner and an activist. I also spent some years driving an animal ambulance for a charity, dealing with injured wildlife, road accidents, etc. Eventually I needed to find paid employment and I knew that the people behind Lush had campaigned against animal testing and eliminated it from their business practices. I turned up for the interview wearing my ambulance uniform and left my ambulance parked across the main door, ready for a quick getaway if called – and thought I had blown my chances of getting the job. They took me on regardless of my rather unorthodox interview. I started off working in the factory making soap, then as the company grew I worked in many different areas, even learning to drive a fork truck to load deliveries during my time in Despatch.

As Lush expanded I slowly moved into a role that matched my personality and my goals.

How much input do you have when choosing the groups or causes that we support?

We have a small campaigns team who have their own campaigning interests – that’s why they’ve come to us. The founders and the staff come up with ideas, and campaign groups and charities come to us to ask us if we would like to get involved.

For each campaign, we partner with someone who is an expert in that field. We give them our shop fronts for a week or two and work with them, allowing them to tell their story to the people walking past our shops and the customers coming through our doors.

We look for those issues bubbling under the surface which campaigning groups are desperate for people to know more about. A brilliant example of this is fox hunting. We knew that the British public despised fox hunting and they would be desperately sad to hear that The Hunting Act, which was passed in 2004, hadn’t stopped it happening. Then there’s the Tar Sands issue in Canada; terrible environmental destruction is happening out in the wilderness where nobody can see, but we’re all buying the oil that comes from it. We felt the public wouldn’t want to run their cars on this oil if they saw that the boreal forest was being decimated to produce it.

Eliminating animal testing in cosmetics has been a priority since Lush first started – why is this so important to us?

Eliminating animal testing is a very personal goal because we’ve seen it, we know how cruel it is, we know how unnecessary it is, and we know how absolutely unreliable the data that it produces is.

In 2012 we started the Lush Prize, a £250,000 annual prize fund to be awarded to the group or individual scientist that had made a major breakthrough in removing the need for animals in toxicity testing. We see a need for funding alternatives to animal testing more than ever in light of the EU legislation REACH, which still requires certain cosmetics ingredients to be tested on animals. The science needs to catch up and eliminate the need for animal testing altogether.

Even though we are very vocal about our beliefs, do you feel as though you can still be as extreme in your campaigning as part of Lush as you have been in the past?

It depends what you call extreme. The effect that I can have here is different. Most of my protest life has been about putting myself in front of something that I think shouldn’t be happening. It’s a case of handcuffing yourself to a bulldozer or sitting up a tree or blockading the gates of a vivisection laboratory, or lying down in front of a cruise missile convoy.

You put your own personal safety aside and physically make a stand – I’m here and I object. At Lush I have more than just my own feeble frame to protest with. We have hundreds of shops on some of the busiest high streets in the world. This is advertising space that money can’t buy, so why not put the issues that we care about in that amazing advertising space? It’s a fantastic campaigning tool that I’ve never had before, and charities tell us they don’t get it anywhere else.

We have hundreds of shops on some of the busiest high streets in the world. This is advertising space that money can’t buy, so why not put the issues that we care about in that amazing advertising space?

Ban the Fin hook suspension performance
Lush ethics director Hilary Jones

Which campaign has been your personal favourite this year?

We have been really impressed with the work against animal testing that Humane Society International has been doing around the world. We teamed up with them a lot last year because we like the global approach they have to the problem. There is no use eliminating testing from Europe and then ignoring the problem in the big emerging markets elsewhere.

I was also happy that we were able to team up with the human rights charity Reprieve again this year. Although it is always life and death issues they are dealing with they always manage to retain a sense of humour and warmth.

How can customers get involved in supporting our campaigns?

I would encourage our customers to have a look at the websites of the campaign groups and charities we support. There are amazing people doing amazing work and they are crying out to be listened to.

In the UK, we are in a really privileged position and I see it as our duty to look to find where we can give a little helping hand, both as companies and as individuals. I think it’s great that we attract so many customers who have the same concerns as we do and have an interest in what is going on in the wider world.

To find out more about our campaigns visit your local Lush shop or follow @lushcampaigns on twitter.

We have hundreds of shops on some of the busiest high streets in the world. This is advertising space that money can’t buy, so why not put the issues that we care about in that amazing advertising space?

Comment (1)
1 Comment

autfourkiller

about 5 years ago

Ever since I was a young girl the very thought of animal testing was abhorrent to me. Especially since the cosmetics industry is geared for humans out of their own vanity, (not that there is anything wrong with loving yourself or preferring a specific product) and want for beauty. When my preschool class took us to the zoo I cried when I saw the lions so sick and sad and misplaced. Needless to say, my mother never made me go back. That is one of the reasons why I so fervently admire what LUSH is doing to stop animal testing in the EU and around the world. Like the lions in the zoos, the animals have no want or wish for the things happening to them, and that is why that we as humans should strive for ethics and kindness and equality instead of squandering our precious ideas on things that could greatly be improved by just removing murder from the equation. I'm proud to be a LUSH customer and hope to be for many years to come! Keep up the good work.
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