Melting Pot

Spread some good with luxurious Sustainable Lush Fund ingredients
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Words: Ceri Roberts & Lucy Siegle
Words: Ceri Roberts & Lucy Siegle

The new Charity Pot contains seven ingredients from SLush Fund projects around the world.

In November 2010, the motivation for establishing the Sustainable Lush (SLush) Fund was simple: could Lush begin to move beyond simply buying fairly traded ingredients and, instead, develop supportive partnerships with the communities that produce them?

More than three years on, the answer is a resounding yes.

The mechanics of the SLush Fund are straightforward: 2% of the amount Lush spends on raw materials and packaging is donated to the fund. This money is then used to start sustainable farming and community projects from scratch, some of which produce and process beautiful ingredients for our products.

The SLush Fund is based on the main principles of the permaculture movement, which is a natural design system based on enriching local ecosystems and offering sustainable alternatives to conventional agriculture. The $2 million spent to date has helped to support the ongoing development of 32 projects in 19 different countries, some of which produce materials that find their way into the new Charity Pot: ylang ylang oil, moringa oil, geranium oil, fresh aloe, shea butter and Fair Trade organic cocoa butter.

Although it’s a totally separate and distinct initiative, Charity Pot represents an additional opportunity to show our support for causes that we believe in. Every penny that Lush customers spend on Charity Pot, minus the taxes, is donated to carefully selected grassroots causes for people, animals and the environment; $4.2 million was raised globally in 2013 alone, and more than $11 million has been raised since Charity Pot was launched in 2007.

Now, everyone who buys Charity Pot automatically supports some of these SLush Fund initiatives - and continues to help raise funds for future projects.

The three main principles of permaculture are at the heart of every SLush initiative: care of the earth, care of people and fair share. Here, we take a look at just three of the initiatives that have helped to produce the ingredients that make the new Charity Pot so special.

ALOE FROM KENYA
Inspired by an overgrown aloe plant, Lush co-founder Helen decided that she wanted to get her hands on some fresh leaves. So SLush Fund coordinator Cadi teamed up with Maasai Permaculturist Joseph Lentunyoi to work with the women aloe growers in the arid region of Laikipia, Kenya.

The Maasai people of Kenya are pastoralist. Cattle rearing is traditionally done by men, who move from one place to another in order to find suitable pastures while the women and children remain at home. When vegetables aren’t available during drought, the traditional meal consists of sour milk and blood from cattle. Life expectancy for the women averages 45 years. In partnership with Laikipia Permaculture Center, the SLush team is working with the women to green the desert land, introducing nutritious plants, alongside aloe, to improve both the land and the women’s diets. Lush buys the fresh aloe leaves for the newly formulated Charity Pot. The leaves arrive in their full form and are freshly cut at the factory to extract the gel. Recent funds from SLush have gone to invest in fencing to protect the aloe from being trampled on by wild elephants and camels.

MORINGA FROM GHANA
At the Ghana Permaculture Institute, mushroom farming goes hand in glove with moringa oil, another Charity Pot staple. In this project SLush met a kindred spirit: Paul Yeboah, the director of the Ghana Permaculture Network and a devoted permaculture expert with the ability to breathe life back into degenerated land to grow badly needed crops. The 24 acres of land chosen outside of Techiman, Ghana was characterized by a chronic lack of fertility. Within this now species-rich food forest and training site grows moringa, also known as ‘The Miracle Plant’. Pressed to produce a light and antioxidant-rich oil, moringa goes into Charity Pot, too.

But what about those mushrooms? Sometime into the project Paul was driving past a sawmill when he had a brainwave about sawdust. He took it away and worked out how to inoculate and grow mushrooms, turning waste into a resource. The mushrooms are now generating a revenue stream and food source.

Taken on a buying trip to Techman, Ghana, November 2013

Taken on a buying trip to Techman, Ghana, November 2013

Although you'll find ingredients that come from SLush Fund projects in other Lush products, only the new Charity Pot brings so many of them together. Due to the way we encourage farming of the ingredients, these materials can be limited in their availability and as such are subject to change. We are working on a sympathetic buying program to ensure the farmers and the earth are cared for too.

Using ingredients from SLush Fund projects in the new Charity Pot is an important step, because Lush doesn’t make a penny from sales – even to cover the cost of the ingredients. “To source raw materials back from the SLush Fund is a really big deal,” says Lush’s Head Perfumer and Creative Buyer, Simon Constantine. “When you buy Charity Pot you get truly traceable, beautiful ingredients,” says Simon. “Just buy it and enjoy it.”

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