LUSH Campaigns to help Create a Wildlife Sanctuary to save Sumatran Orangutans
Jul 15, 2018
Male orangutan, sits in a tree with soulful eyes, in Gunung Leuser National Park (Photo credit Matilde Simas on assignment for Photographers Without Borders and the OIC)
It is easy to feel a kinship with orangutans when looking into their soulful eyes and observing their socially complex behavior. Perhaps that’s because orangutans and humans share 97 percent of their DNA. Sadly, there are only 14,600 orangutans remaining in the wild in Sumatra today.
Vicky, employee at LUSH retailer in Carmel, stands by her computer.
At the end of 2017, LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics launched the #SOSsumatra campaign. The aim was to raise awareness of the effects of deforestation on the Sumatran Leuser Ecosystem which is home to over 500 different species - including the Sumatran orangutans. In tribute to them, LUSH made 14,600 palm oil-free orangutan-shaped soaps, which flew off the shelves. The soap was sold in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Belgium, Norway, Czech Republic, Finland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Estonia, Switzerland and the UK and raised £126,014 (US$175,000) from selling the limited edition palm oil-free orangutan-shaped soaps.
Instead of palm oil—a common ingredient in personal care products—LUSH used coconut oil sourced from Nias, an island off Sumatra.
Charity Pot products, sit by the register checkout area at the LUSH retailer in Carmel, California.
During a visit to the retailer in Carmel, I met with LUSH employee, Vicky. Vicky explained #SOSsumatra campaign was launched by Lush's “Charity Pot” program. She further explained that charitable giving is at the heart of the LUSH business model. "We believe it's our responsibility to advocate for the environment, animals and people in need, as well as giving back to organizations locally and around the world. We do this through our “Charity Pot” program. We donate 100% of the price (minus the taxes) to small grassroots organizations working in the areas of environmental conservation, animal welfare and human rights.
She urges grassroots organizations to apply to LUSH's “Charity Pot” Application. "If your a grassroots organizations that are working on the root cause of issues and creating long-term sustainable change in areas of animal protection, environmental justice, and human rights please apply."
So why did LUSH decide to partner with the Orangutan Information Centre? It was after head Buyer Simon Constantine visited Sumatra and saw the impact LUSH ingredients were having in Sumatra. Since then LUSH has established a commitment to change the way they work, removing palm oil from soap base and to try to rectify the damage that was done.
It was wonderful to share my experience photographing these amazing animals during my assignment with Photographers without Borders and the Orangutan Information Centre with Vicky and to learn about LUSH. Thank you Vicky for your time and wonderful enthusiasm!!
Mother and baby orangutan in Gunung Leuser National Park (Photo credit Matilde Simas on assignment for Photographers Without Borders and the OIC)
Did you know Indonesia has the fastest deforestation rate in the world? The destruction of Sumatra’s rainforests is driving the Sumatran orangutan to extinction. The international need for products such as palm oil and timber has fragmented orangutan populations making them vulnerable to poaching and causing human wildlife conflict. You can be part of the solution by learning more. Please visit Sumatran Wildlife Sanctuary and perhaps donate and be a part of protecting orangutans in the wild where they belong.