Two years ago, this blog reported on a Guardian investigation into the use of child labour to produce mica for cosmetics companies. The Grauniad reported that Lush had committed themselves to removing all mica from their products as they were unable to guarantee it was produced without child labour.
Two years on, how are they getting on with that pledge?
Surprise surprise! The Guardian says “the company has been unable to eradicate the mineral from its supply chain.” Lush say they haven’t knowingly bought any materials containing natural mica since 2014, but they also say “as a direct ingredient it would be easy to identify, but unfortunately mica remains as part of a complex mix of materials that are used to make colour pigments and lustres.” The article also says that Lush say they don’t have the local knowledge or purchasing power to stay and make a difference, but given that several other companies are working in the area to get children to school instead of mines, you’d think they could join in. Several companies, according to the article, have committed to only buying mica from legal and fenced mines, where child labour is less likely to be involved, as well as ending relationships with mines where audits showed child labour was used. But they all acknowledge it’s impossible to be 100% sure child labour was not involved. But, here’s the thing.
Which is more moral? Continuing to produce products even though you’re not 100% sure they didn’t involve child labour? Or discontinuing the products until you can be sure you have a child labour-free option?
BIG thank you to the reader who let me know about the articles.