Case Study - Lush

Inspiring businesses, taking steps to helping grow a better, greener Nottingham

Lush Cosmetics

Lush believes it’s a part of the natural world, therefore its impact – be it through the ingredients we use, the way we manufacture and transport goods or how we generate energy – must give back more than it takes.- taken from the Lush Ethical Charter

We spoke to Emily from Lush Cosmetics here in Nottingham, about what the business is doing to lead the way on business practices that enrich the lives of ingredients suppliers through to staff and customers, and that also address the needs of the planet. We hope you find them as inspiring as we did.

Company background:

Lush is a fresh, handmade cosmetics company founded in 1995. We Believe in making effective products from fresh organic* fruit and vegetables, the finest essential oils and safe synthetics. We believe in buying ingredients only from companies that do not conduct or commission tests on animals and in testing our products on humans. We invent our own products and fragrances. We make them fresh* by hand using little or no preservative or packaging, using only vegetarian ingredients and tell you when they were made. We believe in happy people making happy soap, putting our faces on our products and making our mums proud. We believe in long candlelit baths, sharing showers, massage, filling the world with perfume and the right to make mistakes, lose everything and start again. We believe our products are good value, that we should make a profit and that the customer is always right.

*We also believe words like “fresh” and “organic” have an honest meaning beyond marketing.


Overview of the company’s sustainability goals 

  1. Go Circular with our waste -
    We collect, sort, clean, and recycle as much of our waste as possible and this is done at our Green Hub based in Poole. The Green Hub process returned packaging, broken items, and product moulds, have their own rain capture system to provide water for processing, and divert as much waste away from landfill as possible. In our Nottingham store we contribute to this by recycling as much as possible in store, offering a huge variety of packaging free products, and running our Bring It Back scheme.


  1. To be a climate positive business -
    At Lush we are aiming to be more than carbon natural, we want to have a positive impact on our environment and be agents of regeneration. We are working on this goal by interrogating our supply chain and making regenerative changes (such as promoting permaculture and replanting and protecting forests) in areas where we feel we could be doing better. In 2010 Lush purchased 6,000 hectares of degraded Peruvian rainforest with the aim of regenerating and protecting it. Our aim is to have 0% deforestation in our supply chain in the future. We also use 100% renewable and vegan electric and frack-free gas in our store.


  1. To offer packaging free and sustainable products to customers -
    Over 62% of Lush products sold globally in 2019 were naked, which means that 16,108,320 items that ended up in customers bathrooms resulted in no waste at all. We believe that reducing packaging as much as possible is better than finding solutions for the waste and we are aiming to offer a naked alternative for every product.


Implemented Solutions

  1. Bring it Back Scheme -
    Our Bring It Back scheme launched in 2021 and offers customers 50p off their shop for each piece of Lush packaging they return. So far across Lush UK we've had 120,000 pieces of packaging returned to be recycled. We're aiming for at least 30% of our packaging to be returned to us.


  1. Shampoo Bars -
    Lush actually invented the shampoo bar and it is perhaps our biggest success story in our packaging free range. Globally since 2005 we have sold over 47 million shampoo bars which has saved 3400 tonnes or 141 million plastic bottles from landfill.


  1. Knotwraps -
    Inspired by the Japanese tradition of furoshiki, knotwraps are a waste free wrapping solution as the knotwrap itself can either be re-used or re-gifted once the gift has been opened. We have 3 types of knot wrap made from either upcycled vintage scarves (saving 47 tonnes of fabric waste), cotton (sustainably sourced from a women's cooperative in India which employs over 250 women and seeks to provide financial independence, training, and a safe working environment), or PET from recycled plastic bottles (so far 2.4 million bottles have been turned into Lush knotwraps).


  1. Charity Pot -
    We also sell a beautiful hand and body lotion where all of the proceeds (minus VAT) are donated to small, grassroots organisations that fight for animal, human, and environmental rights. In May alone UK stores raised £72,000 for these groups. Charity Pot is a great way for us to regularly donate to grassroots organisations that promote sustainability and protect the environment whilst also offering the customer a lovely product.


  1. Community outreach -
    When we do occasionally end up with products past their freshness policy or that are unable to be sold we work with local Nottingham charities to donate these products to people who will benefit from them. So far we've donated product packages to Nottingham hospitals, refugee charities, and charities for survivors of domestic abuse amongst many others.


Benefits of your sustainability solutions

  1. The Green Hub -
    The benefit of having an in- house recycling and processing centre is that it ensures traceability and transparency. This means that we can guarantee none of our waste is exported and reduces the amount that ends up in landfill.

  2. Naked products -
    By offering customers naked products we encourage them to think about how much plastic they are using, and give them the opportunity to reduce their impact on the environment whilst also using beautiful and effective products which helps to build brand loyalty.


  1. Pride -
    We are really proud to be a company striving to make a difference and this feeds into staff morale and the sense of pride staff have as brand ambassadors. It is also a huge draw for customers who are conscious of their environmental impact and share our ethics.



At Lush we are proud of all of our environmental achievements but we know that what we've done isn't enough. As we face a global climate emergency we all need to take steps towards carbon positivity and work on these goals consistently and continuously. This starts by looking at your business from the ground up so not only by making small changes such as recycling as much as possible and changing to more sustainable gas and electricity suppliers but also setting larger goals. Such as seeking to reduce waste in your entire supply chain, reevaluating your carbon footprint when it comes to the movement of goods and people, and examining the environmental impact of your raw materials. The most lasting changes often start small though so start with goals that are achievable and build from there.

Lush will always seek to challenge itself over all its uses of the world’s resources. We aim to reduce and minimise our impact with policies that meet the needs of a changing and constantly evolving world situation. We will challenge and target ourselves in areas such as air transport, energy use, materials into landfill, recycling rates, pollution and waste outputs.- taken from the Lush Ethical Charter

Thank you to Emily for talking with us. 

To read more about Lush Cosmetics, visit: or visit their store at 17a Clumber Street, Nottingham.


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