Personally, I always thought the world is not doing enough to battle climate change, and it began to really affect my mental health. I was starting to think no one cares about our beautiful planet until I decided to begin my search for positive initiatives out there that are tackling various different problems our planet faces today, climate change and plastic pollution just being two of them.
Having the chance to open my eyes and acting out of positivity has motivated me to wanting to learn more! And it’s amazing, the more you look for those who are positively impacting the world, the more you realize every single initiative out there wants to share their knowledge to expedite this paradigm shift.
Tackling pivotal issues we are facing today, as a planet, is not the time to act out of negativity highlighted in mainstream media, and it’s definitely not the time to pass off the responsibility because you think whatever change you make is not enough. The belief that the change has to come strictly from governments or businesses is simply us running away from the problem than being part of the solution.
This leads me to the ongoing debate: Who should drive the change, consumers of businesses?
There is a common misconception by consumers wanting businesses to take the lead on changing our world to sustainable future while businesses say they are, in fairness, meeting consumer demand. What must happen, is that we must all realize that this is a collective effort. Businesses must definitely act from a place of social responsibility and consumers should be able to see and acknowledge it by buying and supporting it. For businesses to act in this manner, consumers need to make it known, whether it is through feedback or changing our consumption habits.
This is why The Positive Change exists. To highlight the positive things people, businesses and events are striving to achieve. Sharing this knowledge we acquire not only helps those who are feeling helpless about not seeing any change, but also helps us gain a broader understanding of the initiatives we must support and feed to expedite the paradigm shift to a sustainable future.
The more we support such initiatives, the more these businesses are empowered to shift their processes to a more sustainable process. The more the demand increases for a business striving for sustainability, the more their competitors realize and start replicating the process of sustainability. In turn, the movement continues to gain traction!
A live, prime and awesome example is Lush, yes Lush! For those who may not know Lush, it is the store responsible for pretty much the entire mall smelling extremely fruity. Lush is a huge cosmetic retailer, and being part of the Net Impact Team at Simon Fraser University, we had the chance to organize a Sustainability Tour of Lush HQ in Vancouver to gather insights into their processes and the positive changes they are making, or even hoping to make to move Lush to a more environmentally-friendly future.
Firstly, we already know businesses like Lush use business to stand for a greater good. Just touring the HQ, these were the statements across their walls:
- We really did put the whole fruit in
- We like it baked
- We believe in standing up for animals rights protecting the environment and supporting the human train
- Buy fresh buy local
Just looking at what their vision is for their organization, acting to protect our environment is definitely something Lush is striving for.
What made the tour even better, was our guide, Lee O’Connor and his passion for the environment and animal rights.
This is one way for us to make a change, be part of organizations to push for changes! Ask questions at your workplace, host workshops and show initiative to spearhead projects and why it will benefit in the long run, that’s exactly what Lee did and it was truly inspiring
Alright, well let’s get to the meat of the tour and highlight some ways Lush is making changes to eliminate waste, reduce energy consumption and protect animal rights:
- The use of compostable plastic as wrapping – even though this may cost a little extra to the business, they found it extremely vital to shift their wrapping from excessive plastic to plastic that can actually be composted
- Being mindful of the number of plastic gloves they use – The intricate aspect about Lush is that all products are carefully crafted by hand, which means the use of plastic gloves. And soon, Lush came to realize that this must change in order to not contribute to one of the biggest pollutants in our landfills. Being mindful allowed them to partner with one of the biggest glove recyclers in North America to ensure these gloves are taken care of responsibly, even if that means higher expenses.
- Paper tape instead of plastic tape – We already saw how they dealt with the plastic wrapping, another cool change was utilizing paper tape over plastic tape to decrease plastic consumption!
- Following the philosophy of REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE
- Inventing new methods (cardboard coffin skids) to decrease plastic wrapping
- 100% Vegetarian Company and products are now being pushed to being vegan!
- 60 out 270 retail stores have now implemented energy management systems to decrease energy consumption
- Employees are being trained and constantly reminded to change their behaviours to decrease energy consumption
- Purchase of renewable credits – This allows Lush to offset its energy consumption by helping those building solar farms and permaculture
- Slowly switching distribution to trucks running on biofuel, but more importantly, switching to rail distribution majorly
- No palm oil in any of their processes or products – Farming of palm oil has been known to be extremely harmful to our environment
- Lush uses 100% recycled materials for their pots, printer paper, and reusable packaging for their products (shampoos, tins etc)
That’s a fairly long list of initiatives Lush is undertaking to lead the conversation about tackling pressing issues our planet is facing. Additionally, they are constantly contributing to raising awareness and educating consumers, and employees on best practices and why Lush stands for what they stand for.
Lush vision is now to be completely off-grid while using recycled materials for everything (as it can decrease up to 60% of greenhouse gases!). The company is investing heavily into material innovations and how they can use bamboo, coffee pods and ocean plastics to contribute to the solution to wastage and pollution.
This is an easy way for us to contribute to the change and purchase only the naked problems – demand for packages decrease and Lush can move to stocking only naked products on their shelves!
Now, because of its popularity, we all know Lush will continue existing because of consumer demand. As of now, even though Lush wishes to stock its shelves with only naked products, they are forced to give customers a choice to purchase these products packaged because of consumptions habits and demands.
Additionally, Lush has implemented a TAKE BACK PROGRAM WITH THEIR BLACK POTS. Once you’re finished with the black pot, take it back to Lush! These are ways for us to make changes for the better.
A lot of us may look at these initiatives and deem it as too little to make an impact.
- Firstly, it is important to note that changes are happening.
- Secondly, rather than consumers deeming the changes are too little, if we act, provide feedback, communicate openly through our consumption habits and even making your thoughts known at stores, we can help expedite the change
Yes, I agree, there are many businesses, people and initiatives out there that are completely ignorant to the effects their practices and processes are having on the environment. On the other hand, this should push us to becoming more mindful about where we buy all our things and food from!
Feed the positive initiatives and the entire ecosystem will shift.