Lush’s moral whitewashing
September 15th, 2011 | By: Alykhan
They’re baaaa-ack. Lush cosmetics, that is, and its hypocritical posturing. If you thought the 100-yard-radius outside your Lush store stinks (air pollution anyone?) you should check out the company’s attempt to defend itself in Wednesday’s National Post.
Some background: Canadian columnist Adam Daifallah wrote a trenchant critique of Lush’s do-what-we-say-not-what-we-do habits earlier this month. The British corporation, he noted, boycotts Israel, claiming “human rights” concerns, and yet is happy to enrich its shareholders by opening outlets in some of the worst human-rights-abusing countries in the world. Reality check: The human rights group Freedom House scores Israel’s political and civil freedoms as several times higher than that of Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia, both countries where Lush is perfectly happy to do business. And Lush’s excuse? Well, criticism isn’t allowed in tyrannies. No kidding. That’s the point. Based in Britain, Lush is free to criticize the Saudi despots all it wants, but that means it will lose its license to operate in the medieval kingdom. It’s not that Lush can’t criticize; it’s that it doesn’t want to stop doing business in these unethical places.
Ah, but now Lush has more excuses. Writes Lush “campaign manager” Andrew Butler:
“Let us be clear – we agree with the concerns raised about human rights in countries such as Saudi Arabia. We hold up our hands and can say in all honesty and without shame, we are not perfect. Is the issue of us operating in Saudi Arabia something that needs to be discussed, debated and acted upon? Yes.”
Ah, yes, discussed. Debated. Acted upon. Just not to the point where Lush actually has to sacrifice, you know, profits. Got it.
This, says, Butler, does not excuse the “pollution and associated health problems caused by the tar sands exploitation in Alberta.” Nope. Unless these things aren’t actually happening. As we’ve mentioned before, the Royal Society of Canada in thorough investigations found nothing of the sort going on in the oil sands region (see here, here and here). But hey, what do the top researchers and academic minds in the country know about science compared to the guys who make Ickie Baby Bot Bath Bombs?
Butler goes on to claim that Lush should get a pass on its hypocrisy because “we do not claim to be beyond reproach.” No, they just claim they’re more beyond reproach than Israel, Alberta, and nearly everyone else.
We’ve said it before. We’ll say it again. Boycott Lush.