#actingtogether Bigger Businesses Making Progress?
Initially I intended this post to be a positive look at some of the things that non-independent businesses were doing, but I just can’t make my post solely positive. The main emphasis I will be making in this post isn’t only negative, only that all of these places could be doing more.
The Body Shop
I’ll start with The Body Shop. I will admit that I do like The Body Shop, for the most part. I like how they have started giving the option to take your empty plastic and glass tubs, pots, tubes and bottles back to The Body Shop and they will recycle them for you. Whilst there is no ‘incentive’ given for doing this, like with Lush, it’s a great start to give the option, to those that want it, to use this recycling system. They also clearly explain how it works here.
Another great thing about The Body Shop is how transparent they are on some things. This page on their website is dedicated entirely to The Body Shop’s position on things like plastic, and rather than cut it out, they are encouraging the idea of being responsible about where we source it from. Now, whilst I think that cutting plastic out is the best option, teaching people about how to use their plastic responsible might just get more businesses engaged in the idea.
Here is where my issues come. The Body Shop is well known for not testing on animals. It never has, and they’re pretty blunt about that, so much so that when you search ‘The Body Shop’ on your chosen engine, it comes up with ‘The Body Shop: Cruelty-Free Skincare & Beauty Products’. The snag for me comes in 2006, when The Body Shop was sold to L’Oreal who aren’t cruelty free, and have come under fire quite a bit for exploiting loopholes when it comes to this. Whilst this purchase doesn’t mean The Body Shop now test on animals – whatever you buy from them will still be cruelty free, but it does mean they’re part of a larger company that are more shady. It’s your choice to make of that what you will.
So what’s the takeaway? If you’re interested in a decent, cruelty-free (for the most part) brand, that is trying to do something for the environment then The Body Shop is a good brand to go for. They seem to use much more plastic than I would deem necessary, and when you walk in there is not obvious difference with some other stores in my opinion. However, they have a lot to day about the environment and what they are doing, which shouldn’t be ignored.
Supermarkets are much harder to judge because of the fact that they source everything from elsewhere, which means their carbon footprint is massively increased because of all the things that they ship in from overseas. Their efforts are not to be disregarded though, they were named the UK’s most environmentally responsible retailer in July 2019 because of their work with plastic reduction.
Morrisons introduced the first reusable grocery paper bags seen in UK supermarkets, as well as saw some of the earliest loose fruit and veg sections. It is also known as the first to scrap ‘wasteful and unnecessary plastics’ like cucumber wraps and black plastic.
They have also launched paper bags rather than plastic bags in some of their stores. This is a slight grey area for me because one of the main issues with paper bags is their durability when it comes to water because it can ruin them. You also have to reuse a paper bag three times, compared to a plastic bags four, and this study suggest that there is little evidence to support the reuse of paper bags. The BBC produced an article comparing paper and plastic bags here.
So what’s the takeaway? Shopping at Morrisons over other supermarkets may be marginally better for the environment, but your best environmental option is to shop local. The paper carrier bag initiative is a somewhat good idea, but the best option is just to reuse your bag as often as you can before it breaks.
I love Lush, and am not afraid to admit it. I use their products every day and am a big advocate for them. I will also admit however, that they are not perfect. They do a lot of environmentally-conscious things, like producing ‘naked’ products and making almost everything they sell ‘not virgin’ so you can return a certain number and receive a free fresh face mask.
The main issue found with Lush is their ingredients. Committed to ‘making effective products from fresh organic fruit and vegetables, the finest essential oils and safe synthetics’, some of Lush’s products contain harmful detergents, emulsifiers, surfactants and preservatives. Some of these ingredients are necessary to produce products in a naked form, like one of the detergents SLS because without that Lush would be using plastic bottles, which offer more areas of concern.
There are other potentially questionable issues as well. Despite their strong position against animal testing, 20% of their products are still not suitable for vegans. In other words, they contain animal products such as milk, honey, eggs and beeswax. They are, however, transparent about this, with the question of ‘why aren’t all your products vegan?’ being answered on their FAQs page.
I will say that this post is not intended to ‘bash’ Lush, as I said before, I love their products. This post is supposed to make you think about the way things are marketed, and how that doesn’t always mean that they’re 100% what they say they are.
Lush do somethings really well. When ordering products online, Lush’s packing peanuts are actually a special brand of plant-based and biodegradable packing peanuts that dissolve in water. Another amazing thing that Lush do is their shampoo bars. I discovered these when I went travelling for three months and they are a GAME CHANGER. With the alternative being plastic bottles, which for a traveler are heavy and for the average person are just another plastic thing. To prevent over 6 million plastic bottles from potentially ending up in our oceans every year, Lush created shampoo bars with zero packaging. But they’re so much more amazing than that. They can last up to 80 washes, which is equivalent to 2.5 bottles of regular shampoo. My shampoo bar lasted me an extra month after arriving home from travelling, which for the cost of it was incredible.
One argument that I do hear a lot of is about how terrible glitter is for the environment. Lush don’t use the hazardous substance in their products, they created a plastic-free glitter. This makes them essentially harmless to the environment.
The final point that I have to make about Lush is about their Charity Pots. The lotion doesn’t just do wonders for your skin, 100% of the sales (minus the taxes) goes directly towards supporting small grassroots organizations fighting to advance and secure environmental, animal, and human rights.
So what’s the takeaway? Whilst they are not perfect they are certainly doing their bit for the environment, and are one of the most reasonable options for environmentally friendly products that are cruelty free. I will continue to advocate supporting them, because anybody doing anything like what Lush are doing should be supported and encouraged.
What is the main point of this post? These are only a few businesses that we all often come into contact with who are actually thinking about the environment when it comes to running their business. This post is intended to be an insight into what is currently being done, but also where there is room for improvement. Nobody and no business is perfect, but don’t just look at an environmentally friendly initiative and assume that’s all it is. There is quite often more to the story.