The Lush Investments program was born out of a desire to move beyond simply buying responsibly. Instead, we wanted to invest in ethical agriculture that can rehabilitate the land and support communities from the ground up.
Based on the principles of agroecology and permaculture, the program was originally established to invest in work that would allow us to trace our ingredients from seed to harvest to our products. We began by investing two percent of the money we spent on raw materials and putting it into a fund. To date, we’ve invested roughly $5.1 million in community-focused agroecology projects in over 21 countries, and that number continues to grow—and that means investing more in people: the growers, workers, and communities.
Our goal is to continue creating empowering relationships, ensuring people and communities have safe jobs, training opportunities, and better prices for the ingredients they harvest—all while protecting biodiversity. And doing this allows us to invest in more regeneration projects at home and around the world.
One way that Lush Investments has evolved is through farming projects in Uganda, Guatemala, Peru and Arizona. Sourcing any ingredient comes with its own challenges, but the Lush farm projects seek to build ethical agricultural businesses with environmentally minded practices at their core.
Each farm employs growers from within the local community and relies on the guidance and expertise of local experts, so each ingredient grown can thrive in a biodiverse system that helps replenish the land and create healthier ecosystems for years to come. Some ingredients will be used in Lush products, while others will supply other cosmetic and natural food ingredient businesses — all with 100 percent transparency.
In Arizona, for example, jojoba production is in full swing. A decade ago, the area was booming but unpredictable weather made growing this sensitive ingredient so difficult that many farmers abandoned their crops. Lush bought land that was once home to old jojoba farms and established the Jojoba Conservation Project to restore the desert habitat in an environmentally sustainable way. Today, it’s managed by Jalisco Jojoba, a small multi-generational family business.
Nearly 80 percent of Peru’s forests are illegally cut down for logging, decimating the land, wildlife and communities. Deep in the Amazon, we helped establish a farming project that does more than simply grow beautiful ingredients, like critically endangered rosewood, more than 40 percent of its growth is simply to promote biodiversity to help protect forests in the area.
In Uganda, climate change, land-clearing, and increasing demand for charcoal is wiping out trees and threatening livelihoods—and within 40 years, they could lose their natural forests. Alumalum (“green green” in Acholi) invests in the people, the land, and the community. We purchased land to help regenerate it and grow ingredients, like the moringa oil you’ll find in our Charity Pot Body Lotion. We created Charity Pot in 2007 to help make a difference in the world with every purchase.
In less than two decades, Guatemala has lost 17 percent of its forest. Massive land clearing made way for single-crop farms, but this deforestation has devastated much of the land. In 2016, we invested in one of the worst-hit regions and purchased a 223-hectare former cattle ranch. It’s slowly being brought back to a thriving, biodiverse area with ingredients like cocoa, vanilla, and avocado.
Since 2017, we’ve supported and invested in 560 partner farmers in Guatemala and we’re hoping to raise that number to 600 by the end of 2021. By investing in projects like these, we’re trying to go beyond simply “sustainable” and help revive damaged environments by working with them instead of against them.
THE LUSH SPRING PRIZE
Around the world, regeneration is helping humans live in harmony with nature. They’re generating renewable resources, restoring ecosystems, nurturing solidarity, and building health, wholeness and resilience—and the Lush Spring Prize supports this movement.
The Spring Prize launched in 2016 to award projects around the world working on social and environmental regeneration. It awards a biennial £200,000 prize fund across four categories to organizations working to revive damaged environments, so they can continue their work and to inspire others.