At the LUSH Summit with Khadi Papers
In February I attended the annual Lush Summit in London, a two-day extravaganza with suppliers to Lush from around the world, materials innovators, campaigners, environmental activists, re-wilding project leaders, inventors, musicians and so many all-round great people.
I was invited by Nigel and Barbara from Khadi Papers (I visited their South India factory on my travels last year) And to meet Milan, who runs Get Paper Industries in Nepal. They work together to produce the 'Cosmic' tie-dye paper gift wrap for Lush, and we were demonstrating this process at the event, with people coming up to have a go at dyeing Lokta paper themselves.
Milan and his team in Kathmandu make paper primarily from Lokta, a native plant that grows in the foothills of the Himalayas and due to careful harvesting, is a renewable crop, re-growing in three to four years.
When Milan gets a large order of the 'Cosmic' wrap from Lush, up to 400 women are employed to help tie-dye the paper. Imagine how colourful that factory is!
Supporting a traditional industry such as this provides much needed employment for rural communities in Nepal and the business also funds a local NGO working for women's rights and girl's education.
This type of story was echoed across the Lush event. I spoke to people from around the world who contribute either materials or ingredients for Lush products, and all benefited from the ethical and responsible way that the cosmetics company buy from them.
Splitting kernels to extract Argan Oil (Morocco)
Cocoa beans from Columbia, for cocoa butter and fragrance.
The farmers who farm this product face extreme regular violence and risk their lives to keep drug crime and de-forestation away from their land.
Other areas of the Summit included a Gay Cafe supporting LGBT rights and a whole floor devoted to highlighting the plight of our oceans.
Plus a whole programme of talks, debates and performances.
It was refreshing to hear about not only the problems but also plenty of positivity and solutions.
It was exciting to speak to the innovators that are using materials in new ways and really challenging how we use the products and packaging that we all consume and take for granted.
I was bowled over by the work Lush are doing around the globe, putting money where it is really needed, into the small grassroots organisations that receive no funding and are making a real difference locally.
This is not just Bath Bombs!