In 2009 we ran a campaign to highlight issues with palm oil
Palm oil was (and is!) a huge problem. With more and more demand for the oil, producers were clearing increasing amounts of rainforest ground to plant with palm to satisfy demand (and make more profit). It was a vicious circle, plant, clear, plant but the rainforest was disappearing at an alarming rate.
One way to halt rainforest destruction was to reduce demand. Lush decided to reduce its demand by removing palm oil from all of its soap bases sold in its shops.
The primary cause of rainforest loss was palm oil production and if action wasnt taken then 98% of of Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests could be gone within ten years.
Palm oil production was also responsible for displacing indigenous people, resulting in violent clashes, misery and death. In Sumatra and Borneo the orangutan habitat was constantly being cleared as the ground was the perfect condition for palm to grow.
Another, less well known environmental impact was how the land for palm growing was prepared - the peat it contained was burnt off resulting in the production of 1400 million tonnes of carbon per annum making Indonesia the third largest producer of CO2 at the time.
Lush reformulated all of their soaps, removing the palm oil from the soap base and inventing a new palm free soap base made from coconut and rapeseed oils which are much more sustainable.
During the course of the campaign, a new soap, the first one made with the new palm free soap base, was launched. Called ‘jungle soap’ all of the proceeds from the sale of it were donated to the not for profit group, Rainforest Foundation. In Lush stores customers were invited to show that they wanted to wash their hands of palm by adding their green handprint to a tree painted on the store windows. They could then then wash their hands and receive a free sample of the soap made with the new palm oil free soap base so they wash their hands of palm at home as well.