The Lush buying team is dedicated to sourcing the highest quality ingredients from sustainable and traceable suppliers. This means considering the environmental, financial and social impact of the purchases they make - and requires a whole team to constantly build and maintain strong relationships with communities in the countries ingredients are sourced from
One aspect of this is ensuring that agriculture does not have a detrimental impact on the environment. In an effort to create an entirely ethical supply chain for the company, £3.9 million (SGD 7.1 million) of Lush funds have been spent supporting eco-agricultural projects - the latest being the #SOSsumatra campaign in collaboration with the Sumatran Orangutan Society.
Buying team member Cadi Pink is responsible for overseeing regenerative project development.
She does so by building local relationships and devising ways for communities to make a living in an environmentally-friendly way. Cadi is on a buying mission, and so we were lucky to catch her on her home soil for long enough to chat about her work.
Cadi, can you explain the #SOSsumatra campaign in more detail?
Monoculture palm plantations are a major driver of deforestation in Sumatra, resulting in the destruction of animal habitats. Droves of animal species are being depleted, including the endangered orangutan. I’ve been working with the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) and Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) on forest restoration efforts since 2014. Our next mission is an ambitious one. Through the sales of a new, and limited edition product, Orangutan soap (exclusive to UK), Lush aims to raise enough money to fund the purchase of 50 hectares of palm plantation in Indonesia, and restore it back to native forest.
What does the future of Lush buying look like to you?
We have such a mammoth task in front of us with regards to having a 100% positive impact through our supply chain. Knowing that we’re working to eliminate our part in funding destructive environmental practises is a never-ending task. I don’t have much time to contemplate the future, as there’s so much to be done now!
What might the world be like if all producers treated ethical sourcing as a priority?
I believe that this would be the single, biggest push in change towards reversing climate change and re-establishing natural habitats. The biggest issue we have at the moment as consumers is that the power lies with the buyers. The impact would be huge.
How can we play our own part in buying ethically and sustainably sourced goods?
Keep asking questions. When you buy something, ask where it comes from. Send the producer an email, tweet them, write to them. Endeavor to find out who produces what you buy, and what the practises are behind it. Consumers drive supply chains - the power lies with you.
What attracted you to the job?
I worked in the Exeter Lush shop back in uni. I was studying a masters in sustainable development and climate change, and so I knew I’d do something like this when I graduated. As one of my assignments, I did a research study for Lush buying on the impacts of permaculture for cocoa farmers in Ghana. Off the back of this I was offered a job as the SLush Fund coordinator. In this role I was managing the money raised to develop supportive partnerships with the communities that produce Lush ingredients. The SLush Fund is still going strong. Through it we establish demonstration sites to help showcase alternatives to conventional farming.
What do you love most about what you do?
Buying is a special place to be in at in Lush. It provides a window to the rest of the world. There is so much art, politics and culture surrounding each material we buy, and the area it comes from. Challenges? It can be quite an overwhelming place to be too. You see many worldly problems, first hand. On the flip side though, I witness amazing examples of positive sustainability efforts being made across the globe. I feel quite connected to the wider world from where I’m sat.
For now, Cadi, and the work of the wider buying team, is helping to protect the remaining 14,600 wild orangutans left in Sumatra. To support the #SOSsumatra campaign visit the Sumatran Orangutan Society website or find out more here.