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April 9, 2008

Lush responds, for what it’s worth

 

The letter-writing continues. After mentioning Lush solid shampoo and deodorant bars in my post two weeks ago, I received several comments from readers who had mail ordered Lush products hoping to avoid plastic packaging, only to find that the products that are sold “naked” in the store are packaged in all kinds of plastic when shipped through the mail.

So I wrote to Lush. I’m not going to reprint my actual email because I’m embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t very nice. I must have been in a crappy mood when I wrote it, and rereading it tonight, I realize it’s pretty confrontational, which is not the best approach when we want someone to make a change for us. Flies and honey and all that. Nevertheless, the response I got back was very polite. And while I still don’t agree with all their packaging choices, I’m happy that they’ve obviously thought about the issue a lot and are working to get better.

Here’s the full response from Lush. Take from it what you will. If you want them to make changes faster, email Amanda (adhalla@lush.com) and let her know. And don’t forget that packaging is not the only issue with Lush products. Many of them also contain irritating synthetics like SLS. In my letter, I only addressed packaging concerns. Also, please read my note below regarding the “biodegradable plastic” that Amanda mentions.

Wed, 2 Apr 2008 20:11:36 -0700
From: “Amanda Dhalla” (adhalla@lush.com)
To: Beth Terry

Hi Beth,

Thank you so much for your email and for highlighting an issue near and dear to our hearts.

I’m sure you understand that to ensure that our fragile products arrive at customers’ homes in good condition we must use wrapping materials to protect them against damage. Some of our packages travel many miles and must be able to withstand lots of bumps as both Canada and the US are vast countries.

Over the last few years, we have made many positive changes in the types of materials that we use for packaging. For example:

We use cardboard boxes made from recycled materials and wood excelsior (wood shavings) to protect our products during shipment. Wood excelsior is 100% biodegradable and completely safe.

We use TDPA™ biodegradable plastic bags to protect our bath bombs during shipment. Our bags start degrading after 18 months while regular plastic bags take about 25 years to break down.

[Beth's note: TDPA™ biodegradable plastic bags are similar to the D2W bags that I wrote about in January. They are petroleum-based bags with a chemical (heavy metal) additive which helps them break down. They bring with them many of the same problems of conventional plastics. The only difference is that they will break down under the right conditions.

Also, I don't know where she gets the idea that traditional plastic bags take 25 years to break down. As far as we know, they break down into smaller and smaller plastic particles, but the actual polymers don't break down.]

Our packing tape is recyclable, tamperproof, tamper-evident, and is stronger per square inch than polypropylene.

Our gifts are wrapped with recycled paper and protected using biofoam/envirofill packing peanuts, which are 100% biodegradable.

From this month, we’re rolling out a new clear plastic bottle made with 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) for our shampoos, conditioners and shower gels, and by this fall all of our black pots will be made with 100% post-consumer recycled plastic too.

This is not to say that we don’t have lots of room for improvement as we do still package some of our products in regular plastic before shipping. However, we are continuing to source more environmentally friendly alternatives such as biodegradable bags and containers to replace the plastic. As you can understand, this process does take some time, but we hope to have moved away from regular plastic completely by the end of 2008.

If you have any suggestions for alternative packaging that you feel would help LUSH Direct (online and phones) in our efforts to become more environmentally friendly, we would be extremely interested in hearing more about them.

Thanks once again for your open and honest feedback, and for keeping us honest.

Warm regards,

Amanda

————————————————–
Amanda Dhalla
Web Operations Manager – LUSH Canada
Tel: 604.638.5612
Cell: 604.603.1239
Fax: 604.638.3649

http://www.lush.ca

I also notice that Amanda works for the Canadian branch of the company, so I don’t know if the packaging policies she mentions are the same in the U.S. But really, how environmentally-friendly is it to mail-order personal care products and spend the associated fuel when you can get them locally? Read my March 24 post as well as the comments for alternatives to Lush solid shampoo bars and deodorants. The baking soda is still doing the trick for me!



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15 comments
Irina
Irina

Hi Beth,

I read your blog regularly and have started using Lush shampoo and deodorant over the past few months. I realize this is quite an old post so I was wondering, have you heard anything from Lush recently? Do you think they've reached their goal to phase out plastic by 2008? I'd be super interested in what you can dig up in a follow-up piece.

 

Thanks for all your wonderful posts!

 

Irina (from Canada, currently located in Finland)

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

Hi Irina.  I haven't heard.  Would be good to contact them before ordering.

Beany
Beany

Re: using baking soda as a deodorant. After a few weeks I am now experiencing severe itching and its driving me mad. Obviously I could just change my diet and start eating non-stinky food and shower twice a day...but I'm still looking for a plastic free alternative for deodorants.

Al
Al

I am not familiar with LUSH products but find (and I am extremely lucky in this respect) that purchasing soap (specifically since it's the only thing available) from a local maker is by far the best option and doesn't come with any sort of packaging.As to the 'purchasing something online when you can buy it locally' comment. This is something I have spent a long time thinking about this issue(and still do when contemplating my purchases like a good litte conscientious consumer). My conclusions? Buy local whenever plausible but if you absolutely must purchase online, make it worth the fuel cost to transport and buy 2 or 3 of the same product. That way you only have to purchase every now and again.

Green Bean
Green Bean

Glad that you wrote them Beth as I am embarassed to admit that I still have not. I still have my plastic-laden LUSH deodarant and soap box sitting next to my computer waiting for just the right moment to express my disappointment. Now that I have the direct email link of who to order, I'll finally get around to it . . . now.

CindyW
CindyW

I bought my Lush shampoo bar in a mall (oh the horror!), since it was the closet place to me. I noticed that they had stacks of plastic bags around for people to put their shampoo/shower/bath bars in. Kinda defeat the purpose of low packaging. Suggestion for using a recycled paper bag? I told the sales girl that I did not need a bag, she looked at me sideways and said, "fine".That said, I like using the shampoo bar I bought though. It goes for a long time.

cindy24
cindy24

I had the same issue with Lush when my mom brought home samples from the store...all in plastic bags. My new issue is the 365 Citrus Laundry Detergent at Whole Foods. IT NOW COMES IN PLASTIC INSTEAD OF CARDBOARD at my store in west los angeles. The plastic does not have a recycle number on it. Just like the 365 baby wipes (i know i shouldn't be buying wipes). When i emailed them about what type of plastic they used on the baby wipes they emailed back right away that they would look into it.....never heard back. Perhaps they had some extra plastic to use since they are stopping the plastic bags.....

terrible person
terrible person

Hey! Another reason why CFLs are not as great as they're cracked up to be!

Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish

christy b, email me and I'll explain how to do it. I don't think I can show you the code in a comment or it will just make a link, and that's not what you need.Beth

christy b
christy b

Mr. Terrible Person: Would you please explain to me how to make a link active within a comment? I see you lovely active links and I am jealous!Thank You

terrible person
terrible person

And look! IKEA is phasing out plastic bags (after charging for them for a while.) OK, IKEA is a scary place. But this is a good thing, I think!

terrible person
terrible person

Here is an interesting article about making chemicals from non-petroleum sources. I guess they're still chemicals, though.

terrible person
terrible person

Look what someone in New York is doing with plastic bags! Not sure what kind of statement this makes, or if it helps, but ... it's kind of cool. But maybe not as cool as this subway art we saw in 2005 (I thought we saw it earlier, but it only went up in 2004.)

arduous
arduous

One of the reasons I like Lush so much is because I feel like the reach a lot of people who are NOT so eco-conscious. In fact Lush was the first place I ever saw something like a shampoo bar. I'd never heard of that before. A lot of times, using something at Lush, that still feels swanky and nice, but is still much more environmentally sustainable than say, Pantene, is something of a "gateway" to thinking about things environmentally.I'm not saying that everyone should use Lush, but I do think Lush fulfills an important role. And yes, we should hold Lush's feet to the fire and hold them accountable to their actions, but I think we also need to realize that the more companies like Lush succeed, the further along we'll be.

Tracey
Tracey

I think the first answer to any mail order concerns is BUY LOCAL. Someone asked me about Lush products and declared that they couldn't live without product x, and I started making it SLS-free from organically grown oils, to boot.I ship with 100% reused packaging, but only to relatives and for current clients as holiday gifts. Shipping simply isn't renewable. I research and refer people to similar people/products in their locale. I'm happy to email anyone who is interested a guide to harmful and helpful ingredients. anarreshealth@gmail.comLove & RRRevolution, Tracey

Nancy
Nancy

Hi, BethI just wanted to let you know that I've linked to you in my last article.njones127 at tampabay dot rr dot com

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