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War on the high street: Lush’s battle against environmental destruction



Lush’s ethical director Hilary Jones speaks to Ilaria Bertini about ethical cosmetics and sustainable spending.

First comes the scent, then the look. Anyone who has ventured into one of Lush’s many stores around the UK knows the retailer has a very original and sensory way of presenting its products: cheese-style soap blocks, solid shampoo bars and toothy tabs.

Founded in Dorset in 1994 by six co-founders, Lush has been advocating natural, fresh and handmade cosmetics since the beginning – whilst at the same time lobbying for an end to animal testing for beauty products, supporting various charities through its Charity Pot initiative and promoting the use of renewable energy.

Speaking to Blue & Green Tomorrow, Lush’s ethical director Hilary Jones explains the thinking behind package-free cosmetics.

A solid product has no water and therefore it is very difficult for yeasts and bacteria to grow – so they require no added preservatives.  Also a solid product does not require a plastic bottle or pot”, she says.

“No preservatives is a win for the health of the customer and no packaging is a win for the planet.  If you then ensure that you strictly do not animal test those products, it is a win for animals, too.  Who wouldn’t want their business based on that?

Lush has become increasingly popular in Britain and across the world, proving that ethics and economic success can go together. The Lush Prize, awarded annually in conjunction with Ethical Consumer magazine, awards £250,000 to brilliant ideas that aim to replace the use of animals in cosmetic testing.

Asked what has been the retailer’s biggest accomplishment, Jones says, “I am most proud that we have carved our own furrow and have dared to be different throughout the years, no matter how much we were the rank outsider. I have watched the company build from one small shop to a global entity, without us ever once seriously compromising our beliefs.  That is an achievement in today’s world.”

The ethical consumer market is growing in the UK, despite the recent recession. In 2013, it rose by 12% compared to 2012, to £54 billion revenue. Meanwhile, surveys and market research confirmed that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of ethics while shopping and are demanding greater choice, at more competitive prices.

Customers talk to us about their concerns every day, so we know it is genuine. The advances in global communications has meant that problems of far away communities now seem very up close and personal and a growing realisation that climate change is real and is happening about us has really focused people to want an answer to the problems they see,” Jones says.

What you buy is a form of self-empowerment, whereby even if world governments aren’t providing solutions, people can at least feel that they can make some changes and choices of their own.”

With climate change and resource depletion set to heavily affect the global economy by the end of the century, it is imperative that the retail sector, and not just its ethical branch, focuses on how to deliver customers goods that are environmentally and socially sustainable, sourced responsibly and possibly deliver some good.

At the moment it is hard to pretend that there is balance anywhere on this planet”, Jones concedes.

Things are not right at the moment and there is still huge social and economical injustice and at the same time there is environmental erosion. So we all clearly need to do better. Not just individuals and companies – but as a global community that is standing on the doorstep of climate change.”

Sustainability is a broad concept that does not only concern big corporations and governments, but the choices we make every day, she adds.

It means looking at the facts and seeing what we can do in our home lives, our work lives and in our outreach to the community around us. If we all take these issues seriously and work collectively, then answers could be found. 

Huge advances are made in times of war – we need to go into battle against social injustice and environmental destruction.”

Photo: Oscar Hanzely via flickr

Further reading:

Beauty bloggers call for an end to cosmetic animal testing

One in four people happy to spend more on ethical products

British shoppers want cheaper fair trade products, survey finds

Ethical consumer market grows to £47bn despite recession

The Guide to Sustainable Spending 2013


How to Build An Eco-Friendly Home Pool



eco-friendly pool for home owners
Licensed Image from Shutterstock - By alexandre zveiger

Swimming pools are undoubtedly one of the most luxurious features that any home can have. But environmentally-conscious homeowners who are interested in having a pool installed may feel that the potential issues surrounding wasted water, chemical use and energy utilized in heating the water makes having a home swimming pool difficult to justify.

But there is good news, because modern technologies are helping to make pools far less environmentally harmful than ever before. If you are interested in having a pool built but you want to make sure that it is as eco-friendly as possible, you can follow the advice below. From natural pools to solar panel heating systems, there are many steps that you can take.

Choose a natural pool to go chemical free

For those homeowners interested in an eco-friendly pool, the first thing to consider is a natural pool. Natural swimming pools utilise reed bed technology or moss-filtration to naturally filter out dirt from the water. These can be combined with eco-pumps to allow you to have a pool that is completely free from chemicals.

Not only are traditional pool chemicals potentially harmful to the skin, they also mean that you can contaminate the area around the pool if chemical-filled water leaks or is splashed around. This can be bad for your garden and the environment general.

It will be necessary to work with an expert pool builder to ensure that you have the expertise to get your natural pool installed properly. But the results with definitely be worth the effort and planning that you have to put in.

Avoid concrete if possible

The vast majority of home pools are built using concrete but this is far from ideal in terms of an eco-friendly pool for a large number of reasons. Concrete pools are typically built and then lined to stop keep out any bacteria. This is theoretically fine, except that concrete is porous and the lining can be liable to erode or break which can allow bacteria to enter the pool.

It is much better to use a non-porous material such as fibreglass or carbon ceramic composite for your pool. Typically, these swimming pools are supplied in a one-piece shell rather than having to be built from scratch, ensuring a bacteria-free environment. These non-porous materials make it impossible for the water to become contaminated through bacteria seeping into the pool by osmosis.

The further problem that can arise from having a concrete pool is that once this bacteria begins to get into the pool it can be more difficult for a natural filtration system to be effective. This can lead to you having to resort to using chemicals to get the pool clean.

Add solar panels

It is surprising how many will go to extreme lengths to ensure that their pool is as eco-friendly as possible in terms of building and maintaining it but then fall down on something extremely obvious. No matter what steps you take with the rest of your pool, it won’t really be worth the hassle if you are going to be conventionally heating your pool up, using serious amounts of energy to do so.

Thankfully there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure that your pool is heated to a pleasant temperature while causing minimal damage to the environment. Firstly, gathering energy using solar panels has become a very popular way to reduce consumption of electricity as well as decreasing utility bills. Many businesses offer solar panels specifically for swimming pools.

Additionally, installing an energy efficient heat pump or boiler to work in conjunction with your solar panels can be hugely beneficial.

Cover it!

Finally, it is worth remembering that there are many benefits to investing in a pool cover. When you cover your pool you increase its heat retention which stops you from having to power a pump or boiler to keep it warm. This works in conjunction with the solar panels and eco-friendly heating system that you have already had installed.

Additionally, you cover helps to keep out dirt and other detritus that can enter the pool, bringing in bacteria. Anything that you can do to keep bacteria out will be helpful in terms of keeping it clean.

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4 Ways To Get a Green House in 2018




green house and homes
Featured Image From Shutterstock - By

Demand for green houses is surging. In 2020, almost 20% of all homes on the market will be green.

If you would like to buy a green home, this is a great time to look into it. Prices are still pretty low and there are a lot more financing options available than there were right after the recession.

If you’re thinking about buying a house, now could be a very good time to make the move! A number of factors in the housing market right now mean that you might be able to afford your dream home. Although in many parts of the country house prices are still rising, if you do your research and plan wisely, there are lots of good schemes to help you get your foot on the property ladder, or trade up to the house you’ve always wanted.

Interest Rates and Stamp Duty

Although the Bank of England raised interest rates by 0.25% recently, they remain very low, which is good news if you’re thinking of taking out a mortgage. However, rates may not stay low and it’s predicted that there’ll be a further rate rise during 2018, so don’t wait too long. Another factor that’s going to help first time buyers in particular is the Chancellor’s decision to abolish stamp duty for first timers purchasing properties for under £300,000.

Different options

For many people looking to buy a green home, raising a deposit of between 5% and 20% may not be a realistic option, in which case there are a growing number of schemes to help. Increasingly popular are shared ownership schemes, through which the buyer pays a percentage of the full value of the property (typically between 25% and 75%) and the local council or a housing association pays the rest, and takes part ownership. This is suitable for buyers who may struggle to meet the up-front costs of buying outright. There will often be a service charge or management fees to pay in addition to the mortgage. The Government’s Help To Buy scheme is a good place to start looking if you’re interested in this option. This scheme is now available to people looking to buy green homes too.

ISA Options

If you’re still saving for a deposit, another scheme is the Help to Buy ISA. You can get a 25% boost to your savings on amounts up to £200 per month with this scheme. It’s only open to first time buyers and you can claim a maximum of £3000.

Other costs

Green home buyers are going to run into a number of other ancillary costs, most of which are common to other homebuyers.

When calculating how much you can afford, it’s vitally important to remember that buying a house comes with a whole host of other costs. Depending on the cost of the property that you’re buying, you may have to pay stamp duty of anywhere between 1% and 5%. There’ll be estate agents fee if you’re also selling a property, although there are a wide range of online estate agents operating such as Purple Bricks or Right Move that have lower fees than traditional high street companies. Conveyancing costs to a solicitor can add another £1000-£3000 and you may need to take out life insurance and hire a moving firm.

There are other initial costs such as, fixing parts of the home that aren’t upto your taste. Getting new furniture to fill up all the new-found space in your new home. If you are moving away from the city, you need to consider the cost of transportation as well, as it can take up quite a lot over time. Take your time, do your homework and shop around and soon you could be getting the keys to your perfect home.

I hope this article was useful for you to learn more about the basics that you need to be aware of before you start the process of buying your first home. If you have any doubts with regards to this, let us know through the comments and we will be glad to help you out. If you have any suggestions regarding how we can improve the article, let us know them through the comments as well for us to improve.

Do you have any other reservations against buying your first home? Do you see your house as an asset or a liability? Do you think it is important for everyone to get themselves a new home? Let us know through the comments.

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