Eco News Network features this interview with Kathleen LeBlanc-Hood of LUSH as part of our October Ethical Consuming series. LUSH is a franchise model that sells organic beauty products and is committed to environmental preservation and, of course, making a profit. With products available in countries, this environmentally minded company strives to be ethical by adhering strict sourcing policies, fair labor practices, and charity initiatives.
When walking into the LUSH store at 166 Newbury Street in Boston, one gets the impression of being in a high-end organic deli with an air of “Whole Foods.” This is no accident. LUSH strives to present their products in the same fresh and healthy light that a food marketer would. The smell of the unwrapped soap (unwrapped so as not to contaminate with packaging) is everywhere and the products themselves look like something to eat. And, LUSH products do command a healthy price in addition to being produced in an ethical way.
But, what exactly is going into a $10 bar of soap? Kathleen LeBlanc-Hood, a key holder and floor leader at LUSH, in Boston says, “In Turkey, where we get all of our rose oil from, we pay far over what is a fair price for it so that they can build public schools in the community.” She explained that the key things LUSH is concerned with are paying a fare wage, not doing anything that’s harmful to the environment, absolutely no animal testing, and giving back to the community.
These standards are part of all aspects of the LUSH sustainable business platform. LeBlanc-Hood comments, “the biggest way in which LUSH is an ethical company is how ingredients are sourced.” There is an Ethical Buying team in charge of ensuring that LUSH suppliers from all over the world are adhering to ethical standards. She adds, “We have a contract with our suppliers and if they’re not producing within the contract’s standards LUSH can break it right then and there.” According to LeBlanc-Hood, any indications of animal testing, unfair labor practices, for example, will cost that company LUSH’s business. “The product and the profit come secondary to the ethics,” she says.
Each product in LUSH has a picture and the name of the person who made it, or “compounder” on it. And, all of the products are made in the company’s manufacturing facilities, with ingredients imported from all over the world. For example, everything in the Boston shop is made in Vancouver.
LeBlanc-Hood also explained more on how the company gives back through selling a product called Charity Pot, which is a hand and body lotion made from fair trade organic cocoa butter. She says, “every cent from Charity Pot, except what we have to give to Uncle Sam, goes to charity and the reason it’s called Charity Pot is because we work with over 350 different human rights, environmental rights and animal rights organizations.”
LUSH wants to make sure that the money from Charity Pot sales goes to worthwhile causes so strict standards are set for the grants and consumers can go to the store’s website and see where LUSH’s money is going, LeBlanc-Hood explained. Her favorite Charity Pot organization is Made by Survivors; an international non-profit that employs and educates survivors of slavery and people at extreme risk, including many women and children living in extreme poverty.
Check out LUSH and Charity Pot. Even if you’ve never considered purchasing a $10 bar of soap, at least now you can understand the care and consideration that went into making it so special.
Photo Credits: LUSH, Made By Survivors