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The Lush Summit 14th-15th February 2018

Lush is a global soap franchise with 105 stores in the UK, its flagship store on London’s Oxford Street. Known for using primarily ethically sourced ingredients in bath bombs, bubble bars, floating islands oils and the like, Lush's charity arm holds an annual summit for some of its international staff members from 900 stores in 49 countries to learn more about key environmental and social issues.

This year Chris Packham, zoologist, BBC personality and birder, was Lush’s on-the-spot reporter covering the two day event. He tirelessly patrolled the cavernous building on the former site of Billingsgate fish market talking to campaigners working to conserve the oceans, whales and other marine, animal, plant and bird life. I was part of this unique atmosphere with Pat Thomas, director of Beyond GM and GM Free Me, who gave Chris an informative interview for broadcast on the Lush Summit livestream. Pat also chaired a roundtable discussion finding that young people are concerned about GM food and trade agreements with the US since UK’s impending Brexit from Europe.

Lush does not test on animals and in 2015 co-ordinated a march on Downing Street to protest animal rights with Common Decency, The League Against Cruel Sports and Animal Aid. Sourcing most of their ingredients from fruits and vegetables, Lush no longer puts palm oil into its products and invests in small scale producers growing and processing essential oils and other materials in Guatemala, Pakistan, Kenya and the Lebanon. The Summit also showcased responsibly managed cork, cotton and paper. Founded by a small team in Poole, Dorset originally supplying fragrances to The Body Shop, one of the world’s first ethical high street cosmetics businesses. 

Doing its bit for charity, Lush launched Charity Pot hand and body lotion, donating 100% of the sale price to grassroots organisations working for environmental conservation, animal welfare and human rights. Since 2007 Charity Pot has given $10 million to 850 charities in 42 countries, and donated a further £3.8 million to charity in 2014. Lush is an avid supporter of peaceful direct action, anti-roads, anti-incinerator campaigns, Syrian refugees and a One World freedom group in Palestine. Lush has also launched a ‘Gay is Ok Soap’ and is active in protecting Hen Harriers from illegal persecution, providing funds to satellite tag these Scottish upland birds. 

Chris Packham flagged up his concerns about the effects of palm oil production on communities in Indonesia illustrated by his own stunning photographs. He then enlightened his captive audience about a teenagers fraught battle to save the Honey Buzzard in Sicily. Lastly, he promoted his own passion project to protect the Golden Eagle, showing his short film called Fred the Golden Eagle. Fred was hatched in the only breeding nest on the Scottish border, his movements tracked by tag in the woodlands around Edinburgh. But in February 2018 Fred's signal mysteriously disappeared. More than forty Golden Eagles have vanished under suspicious circumstances in recent years in the region. Merlins and Ravens have also been persecuted in areas close to driven grouse moors. A review of grouse moor management has been ordered by Scotland’s Environment Secretary and Chris repeated his vow to protect the Golden Eagle, of which there are only 440 pairs in the UK. 

For further information on Chris Packham

More information on Lush Summit Photo: Chris Packham with Sam Burcher