The Smell of Bullshit, part 34: Corporate Social Responsibility report

Lush Corporate Social Responsibility Report

Interesting reading, isn’t it? Particularly how they say several times that there is no external verification for the majority of Lush’s claims. You can draw your own conclusions about the veracity of Lush’s claims.

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17 thoughts on “The Smell of Bullshit, part 34: Corporate Social Responsibility report

  1. “Consumer Safety” makes for interesting reading. Surely Lush should provide more info on how it makes sure that its products are safe to use. Does anyone know if Lush has talked about this anywhere?

  2. I want to know why Lush don’t have to tell customers when they recall products. As an (ex) customer, I have wasted possibly hundreds of pounds on Lush products which were just crap, only to be told when returning them to the store that ‘oh yes, we had this recalled’. Normal retailers put a notice on the door when something is returned to let customers know, out of safety advice or goodwill. Lush seems to sidestep this procedure. I have no idea if it is consumer law or just a courtesy thing, but either way it stinks. I have had some terrible rashes due to moisturiser that burnt my skin (hello exploding Afterlife); huge ballistics which gave me acute cystitis due to extreme urethral agitation (yes, Humango, I am looking at you. I am sure they caused some terrible urticaria in some forum customers, from memory. Wasn’t there an ingredient mix up to do with loads of perfume or something?); gone-off Sympathy that caused my skin to come out in hives, just as the internal system may react if you ate gone-off banana; lips that peeled and blistered when I used the apple pie flavoured lip balm (Lip Squeak?); eye cream (Enchanted Eye Cream) which was slightly ‘on the turn’ (brand new, just bought) which gave me pink eye in both eyes. I could go on. All of these products were in date but all had something wrong with them. Some of them, my local store said when I took them back, had been recalled. In the end, I just stopped buying.

    But yeah, why bother telling the customer, what a faff! Just speak to them like shit on the forum you set up for them and neglected for years.

    Oh, and on that business; one of the ‘directors’ posted earlier today that they wouldn’t accept this level of ‘abuse’ in their shops. Well let me tell you, in shops if a customer has a problem and tell the manager, the manager doesn’t run out to hide at the back of the shop and get a minion to give you a hard luck story – they grow a pair, give some respect to the customer and deal with it. They don’t just stare blankly at you and ignore you for hours on end, they make amends and WORK FOR YOUR CUSTOM. They don’t BLAME the customers for the problems – they admit liability and fucking sort it. The problems that the forum have asked answers for again and again are the problems of Lush and not the customers. The atmosphere on the forum is ENTIRELY the company’s problem. I don’t know any other company that gets away with speaking to customers like that with no comeback. I don’t know any other company with this level of extreme arrogance.

    Lush forum customers asked questions that you didn’t want to answer, practiced the ‘free speech’ Lush apparently cherishes, and now are being shat on. Not just by the directors but also shop staff. See how they follow your shining example. The fish rots from the head down, doesn’t it?

    Well, if this is how they treat the people who keep them in business, it’s a crying shame. The customer is always right, isn’t it Lush?

    You are a bunch of shameful bastards. It looks to me like the company is rotten to the core. The orange haired bully patronising people and pretending she never ever had ‘personal interaction’ with the forum, and some other director or other posting about ‘Greenwash’ and sending people to the naughty step for edging on being ‘offensive’ – you should be ashamed of yourselves. You treat customers as if they were the enemy, not the source of your wealth. Grow some fucking bollocks, do you realise how precious you sound? Is this the result of ‘success’? Well look at the price of it. You’ve turned into a bunch of infantile little drama queens. Lush should think about offering a little more ‘service’ and a little less (lot less) hubris. You are toiletry manufacturers and retailers, not gods. Yes, toiletries; not luxury, not even mid-market. Bargain bin, bottom of the barrel toiletries. Expensive ones.

    • If Lush put a sign up in the window every time a product was recalled you’d not be able to see into the shop! It would look like it had been boarded up. (not a bad idea)

      Maybe that would be a good next window campaign. “Come to Lush, we are crap, we take your money and then your product goes manky but we don’t tell you in the hope that you don’t notice!”

  3. So far, I’ve not found a single ‘honest’ claim made by Lush about the safety of their ingredients – or the fact that they appear to omit certain ingredients from their labels.

    For instance, putting ‘fresh food’ in skin care that then goes onto the shelves for sale, can’t legally be done (at least, not in Australia) without preservatives, which Lush, of course, claim they don’t use. One suspects the preservatives are ‘hidden’ under the label ‘perfume’ or ‘fragrance’, but until they’re legally taken to task, we’ll never know.

    I can’t be bothered with businesses like that. I’d much rather deal with a company who’s up front about their ingredients, than those who insult my intelligence by trying to hide them. At least with a full and honest ingredients disclosure on the product label, I can then do my own research so I can make my own informed choices.

    • Since I left Lush I have started making soap the traditional, old fashioned way. A bit like Lush pretend they make soap when in actual fact they buy it in and then add loads of extra foaming agent which actually stops it being ‘soap’ in the true sense of the word.

      Anyway, when I started selling the soap I had to have safety assessments done on each and every ingredient I used in my products. I have strict guidelines that I have to follow and have to stick to certain methods of production. This is what should happen for everyone who makes cosmetics and sells them to the general public. You can be heavily prosecuted if you are found not to have them.

      These safety assessments cost me around £ 600 which is a lot for someone who just sells at farmers markets and craft fairs and on etsy, but these assessments have to be available at all times for customers to view to prove that I am who I am and that my products are safe and have been assessed.

      If I decide to make a new type of soap with different essential oils I have to let the safety company know and then pay each time to have these new oils assessed too and add these to the ones already available.

      In the 8 years I worked at Lush I never once saw a safety assessment. There are none available to view on their website that I have seen and certainly no shops have copies of them – which by all accounts they should have. It is the customers right to ask to see these safety assessments, but in no time of working there was this fact ever transmitted to shop floor staff. Maybe customers should start asking as it would be very interesting to see their assessments for things like SLS and Azo dyes and fake perfumes and whether anything they use has been flagged up as causing thrush or rashes or allergies.

      Do these assessments exist at Lush or is that another thing Lush think doesn’t apply to them and that they don’t have to take notice of?

    • These are the assessments I have had to comply by! Lush is certainly not too small as I’m a one man band and have still had to have them done. Lush probably think they don’t have to bother because they’re too good for that. Maybe no one has reported them. Yet!

  4. I think that, once again, Lush just haven’t bothered because they don’t think it applies to them. They think that they are above the law, above fair trade certification, above customers asking for answers (bearing in mind that the customer is always right – unless they’re just misled)

    The bit about Lush being happy making a smaller profit because they paid bonuses makes them look a lot nicer than they really are. Yes, a few years ago staff who had worked for 2 years got a grand and anyone over 3 years got 2 grand which was a really lovely thing to get.

    But that’s small comfort when you’re bullied and pushed around for the rest of the time. It felt like silence money.

    Also Lushfest was not for the staff, it was a one man ego trip so Mark could say he’d organised a festival and so that he could say there wasn’t money for pay increases for staff that had worked less than 2 years. Staff didn’t want to go they were made to go. Their jobs would have been on the line if they hadn’t gone. So instead they had to wade through mud and look interested and whoop with joy when they blew a car up Top Gear style whilst not giving a shit that the place the festival was held was a wildlife sanctuary and might suffer as a consequence. Why no Lushfest 2013? Lush was told it was not welcome back on the site.

    Of course with a limited company I believe that you only pay tax on your profit (tho I may be wrong) and giving away millions and organising festivals cuts down on the tax you would have to pay, but I’m sure that wasn’t the reason for it happening.

    The report shows that in several ways Lush can talk the talk but have little in the way of documentation to support their grandiose claims.

    Apart from the plastic disclosure – which as we know from previous comments only disclosed the plastic used for packaging and failed to disclosed the mountains of plastic used to mould the products before they were sent to shops to be sold as ‘naked’ products.

    But of course Lush don’t use greenwash.

    And I also felt a bit embarrassed at reading Lush’s statements from Mark that ethical companies had ‘sold their soul to the devil’ that it was ‘bullshit’ and that “We’re not a marvellously ethical business, we’re alright. We’re just not really really naughty and crap.”

    This is just how Mark speaks. He doesn’t care if he offends anyone by swearing, he just says what he thinks whether people like it or not. He behaves in a truly un-professional manner at all times like some stroppy teenager who just refuses to behave and wont conform, even thinking that Lush are too good to apply for fair trade certification to conform to accepted standards.

    But don’t swear on the forum. Remember, there’s rules for one and rules for another on there!

    At a managers meeting once Mark was showing off his Christmas presents and one of them was a box with flashing lights that you could program to flash words up (like you get in A&E) and throughout the whole address it said “Fuck Off” then it said “I hate Vegans” and his standard response to the word vegan is “oh fucking vegans” It certainly was quite off putting, especially for some newer managers who had some God like image of Mark in their heads who then saw he’s just a thug and a bully. Oh and a complete and utter coward too.

    But don’t swear on the forum, it’s bad. And don’t say anything bad about Lush or you’ll get put on the naughty chair.

    Double standards.

  5. Regarding NA’s “Green” policy asterisked in the report, when I was an SA there was no mechanism in place to achieve some of the stated goals. For example, the “return 5 pots and get a free facemask “promotion was honored at the point of sale. But the returned pots went into the normal trash because the mall the shop was located in did not have a recycling pickup. (One MIT used to take them home, wash them, and put them in her residential recycling pickup. When she was fired the pots simply went into the general mall trash bin.) The same situation applied to the dozens of cardboard cartons that the product was shipped in from the factory to the store. It might’ve been naked product on the shelves, but it was originally shipped in cardboard containers, both outer and inner, that again were not recycled. Granted, this was only one store of many but the point is there was no set policy or procedure and it was strictly due to the “honor” system and the personal initiative of employees whether or not anything got recycled. Multiply that by whatever portion of the 100’s of stores that do the same, and there’s a tremendous amount of things going to landfills that should’ve been sent to recycling centers.

  6. That’s an interesting point regarding “off” Sympathy for the Skin. I had a pot of Blousey and I stopped using it because I swear the banana fermented. There was no way I was putting it on my scalp and hair. It’s a rubbish product anyway because it STILL strips colour even though it’s supposed to be for coloured hair and it’s totally overpriced for what it is.

    The ingredients listing below is as cut and pasted directly from the website:

    Quantitative Ingredients

    Fresh Banana, Pimento Berry Oil, Fair Trade Organic Cloves and Star Anise decoction, Ammonium Laureth Sulphate, Glycerine, Propylene Glycol, Cocoa Butter, Soya Lecithin, Lauryl Betaine, Cocamide MEA, Cupuacu Butter, Perfume, Rose Oil, Blackcurrant Absolute, Rosemary Oil, Juniperberry Oil, *Geraniol, *Limonene, *Linalool, Citronellol

    Are they seriously trying to tell us that fresh bananas which are the main ingredient are so expensive that a shampoo has to cost £18? Really? I bet if they stripped the faffy ingredients down the cost would go down considerably. God, I’d rather whazz £18 on a brand like Ojon.

    • That’s because it’s absurd to have fresh banana be the first ingredient in a shampoo with no preservative. Whether you like parabens or not (or phenoxyethanol), it’s important to have a preservative when you have something as prone to going funny as bananas. And I’d be willing to bet that decoction is only there to be the water content of the product.

      • Yes, decoctions are just kind of a tea made with either herbs or flowers, or in this case clove and star anise. Used mainly to add colour and a bit of fragrance but won’t actually do anything unless you were to drink it!

        It always makes me laugh that Lush say it’s the essential oils that perfume the products but if you look in the Lush Times (Or Fresh Matters as it’s now known) the word perfume is always pretty high up the list of Quantative Ingredients (largest amount first) and in most cases is in black, showing that the perfume of 90% of Lush products is actually synthetic.

        When I worked there I did a lot of work on fragrance and perfumes in general and I know that the essential oils named in most of the products just would not smell how the product smells, and that it comes from synthetic sources. And things like Rose Absolute is so expensive that they use a couple of drops to say they’ve used it and then add loads of fake rose perfume to make up the rest.

        The liquid fragrance is pre-mixed in the factory and they call it EC’s (Essential Components) but the essential oils are only a few drops compared to litres of fake synthetic perfume that makes up the bulk of it.

        So when people complain about the smell of the naked products and staff are told to say ‘it’s the essential oils’ actually it’s not, it’s the fake synthetic fragrance oils they use in place of the essential oils to make more profit and to delude the public just a little bit more.

      • @A N Other

        Obviously. No essential oil smells like exactly like its flower. Anyone who smells something like Imogen Rose and thinks they achieved it through “lots of lovely rose absolute” is a victim of Lush’s marketing. They create scents like that by using synthetic perfume materials and just a small amount of natural oils.

        “Real rose oil and absolute in amounts that nobody in their right mind would use…”

        And yet the QI tells a different story: “DRF Alcohol, Perfume, Ambrette Seed Oil, Vetivert Oil, Tonka Absolute, Orris Butter, Bergamot Oil, Rose Oil, Rose Absolute, *Citral, *Coumarin, *Eugenol, Methyl Ionone, Geraniol, *Benzyl Benzoate, Citronellol, *Farnesol, *Limonene, *Linalool”

        So you can see that the perfume is the second ingredient and the black listing means it’s a predominantly synthetic blend and the rose oil and rose absolute are right down the list with the allergens, methyl ionone and citronellol.

  7. As a very recent EX employee (by my own doing) of Lush NA I can tell you that the company did nothing to ensure we were recycling or being green. Everything has always been focused on sales. This year we have had 3 Manager meetings focused on “being who we say we are” and there is nothing in place whatsoever to hold any shop accountable to that. In fact shops that have the brands core values down are being torn apart for the most minor things. I could go on and on-but i’ll leave it at that for now.

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