Green Heroes: Lush Founder Mark Constantine
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Green Heroes: Lush Founder Mark Constantine

We meet the man behind the renowned cosmetics brand

Mark Constantine, a keen environmentalist and lover of birds, founded Lush in 1995 alongside five friends and his wife. Well known for its bath bombs, Lush is on a cosmetic revolution to save the planet – driven by innovation and ethics, it’s creating products for every need whilst supporting people and initiatives around the world. Today, Lush operates in 52 countries with over 850 shops worldwide, whilst closer to home, Mark founded the charity Birds of Poole Harbour to educate and promote bird conservation preservation and observation.

Mark Constantine On His Green Business Principles

Mark Constatine

When was your green lightbulb moment?

It was when I first went into The Body Shop and saw how well Anita Roddick had done. Anita was so charismatic and seeing people buying products without packaging was a revelation.

What motivated you to launch Lush?

I was motivated to start LUSH to make a living!

What green business practices are you most proud of?

I’m very proud that we are taking full responsibility for and sorting out our own waste and not putting that responsibility onto our customers. We opened our new and improved Green Hub facility in Poole earlier this year and it, in essence, is our own recycling centre, where we take responsibility for materials that could be considered ‘waste’. They’re reused, recycled, repurposed or repaired – finding ways to slow the flow of ‘waste’ materials and creating circularity wherever possible. It’s been lovely seeing this come to fruition and how it’s turned into a real community hub, with visitors ranging from the public to other businesses and institutions. We want to leave the world lusher than we found it and this plays a big part in achieving that. 

Not a green business practice, but something I am really proud of is recently being voted one of the world’s top companies for women, awarded by Forbes.

How are you tackling the issues around plastic pollution?

We like to get rid of packaging when designing products and around half of our product range can be taken home naked like our solid shampoo and conditioner bars. We have begun the process of rolling out ‘Prevented Ocean Plastic’ supplied by Bantam Materials UK Limited, across all of our different sized transparent plastic shower gel bottles. The plastic is collected from within a 30 mile distance of ocean coastlines in Bali, Indonesia, and nearby major waterways, which feed in the ocean. Once we have completed this roll out it will make us the first global cosmetics retailer to introduce 100 percent recycled plastic of this kind. 

What makes you feel positive about a sustainable future?

Can you have anything other than a sustainable future? It is the only way forward.

And what are the facts that make you fearful?

That so many young people get such eco-anxiety when we need them to be more brave.

What other initiatives does Lush promote or is involved with?

We have a Bring it Back scheme where customers in the UK can return their Lush plastic packaging back to our shops for recycling. They can choose to either get money off their shopping or if they return five items, they can receive a free fresh face mask of their choice. Since 2021 when we introduced the scheme our customers have returned an estimated five million individual items of LUSH packaging to us!

In the last 10 years, LUSH has donated over £87 million globally via all of our different charitable giving streams. In 2012 we launched The LUSH Prize in partnership with Ethical Consumer, becoming the largest prize fund in the non-animal testing sector.

Who is your own green hero?

My own green hero is Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, who provides all of our UK shops and buildings with 100 percent vegan renewable electricity.

Your favourite product – and tell us why we can feel good about buying it?

My favourite product is Wig. It makes your hair stay where you want it to. It is a fun product to use and makes me laugh. It is based on a B52 song of the same name and the lyrics go: ‘what’s that on your head? A wig.’

Should we be green shaming the brands/companies who are doing nothing to change their ways?

I believe we should be looking more carefully at those who are pretending to do lots. There is a lot of greenwash out there!

What areas could Lush work on in terms of sustainability?

We have the LUSH Spring Prize in place to support ‘regenerative’ projects – those that go beyond sustainability by taking holistic approaches to building the health of ecology, economy and social systems. It supports those who are leaving the world ‘LUSHer than they found it’, and are actively restoring all the systems they are part of.

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