The Sustainable Lush Fund was born out of a desire to move beyond simply buying responsibly. Instead, we wanted to invest in sustainable farming and projects that replenish the land and support communities from the ground up.
Based on the principles of permaculture, the fund was established to invest in projects that allow us to trace our ingredients from plant to harvest. It gives our buyers the opportunity to seek out positive, empowering relationships with growers, while they maintain sustainable practices and create fair wages and working conditions for their workers.
Getting to the root of ingredients
But to invest in truly sustainable supply chains, the fund has had to grow and adapt to do even more. To date, we’ve invested roughly $5.1 million in community agroecology projects in over 21 countries, and that number continues to grow. To “go beyond” means investing even more money and time into the fund so we can regenerate damaged ecosystems, create sustainable and transparent supply chains for the ingredients we source, ensure ingredients are grown in biodiverse environments designed to replenish the earth, and support communities with training in regenerative agriculture, while strengthening their access to new markets.
The Lush farm in Guatemala
From 1990 to 2005, Guatemala lost 17 percent of its rainforest to make way for palm oil plantations and cattle farming. And after years of monoculture and intensive cattle grazing, the land suffers erosion, nutrient-deficient soil and little to no wildlife in the area. In spite of this environmental devastation, a regenerative Lush farm is thriving.
We purchased 225 hectares of degraded former cattle pasture that would’ve otherwise been sold to become another palm oil plantation. For the last three years, it’s been dedicated to the growing of vanilla, cocoa, avocados and tropical hardwoods—some of which will be used in our products.
With the guidance and expertise of local farmers and students focused on agroforestry and organic regeneration, each ingredient is thriving in a biodiverse system that helps replenish the landscape and is creating healthier ecosystems for years to come. In a region facing major economic challenges, the farm is a safe, positive learning environment for locals to gain experience in sustainable farming practices while receiving fair pay and substantial benefits compared to other employers in the region. Two local community outreach workers also work with the farmers, teaching them how to farm the land responsibly and offer support as they move to more sustainable agricultural practices.
In 2017, we supported and invested in 180 partner farmers and we’re hoping to raise that number to 400 by the end of 2018. By investing in projects like these, we believe that regeneration is key to moving livelihoods and economies beyond the sustainable, and reviving damaged environments by working with them instead of against them.