Lush is a company that is known for its socially-conscious initiatives and partnerships, as well as being cruelty-free and providing more vegan and vegetarian products than any other cosmetic company out there. So although the rest of the world has forgotten about the tragedy that ruined the city of Fukushima in Japan just 6 years ago, Lush has stepped up to help the few residents that are still left to continue to survive in their homeland.
In 2011, Fukushima was hit by a massive earthquake that reached a 9.0 on the moment magnitude scale and caused the largest nuclear disaster since the infamous Chernobyl incident. The earthquake caused a huge tsunami, which then breached the walls of the three nuclear power plants and caused them all to have meltdowns after they disabled the emergency generators. Nearly 20,000 died and went missing from the natural disasters that hit the surrounding areas, but residents continue to face hardships even today.
Six years later, only 174,000 of those evacuated remain in the city of the nearly 500,000 that originally lived there. The people relied on profits from agriculture, but with radioactive material leaking into the ground, no one wants to buy the produce coming from the area. Despite radiation tests conducted on all of the crops that are sold, price drops have been necessary for farmers to even sell their products. On top of all this, tourism has decreased by 80%.
This is where Lush comes in. Farmers have been completely abandoning their land ever since the tragic incident occurred, and since no one wants to buy the crops for fear of poisoning from consumption, an enterprise cooperative called Iwaki Otento Sun has been searching for new ways for the residents to thrive. Their ideas included growing an organic cotton that is native to Japan, which is something that Lush could work with.
Lush currently uses woven cloth to gift-wrap their products rather than using traditional wrapping paper, and they even tie up bath bombs and soap bars using the Japanese art of furoshiki. In the past, Lush has partnered with organizations that employ at-risk women in India or used vintage scarves to source the wraps, but their recent partnership with Iwaki Otento Sun could truly impact these people’s lives in a positive way.
In a letter from Iwaki Otento Sun’s founder, Emiko Yoshida, read out loud by Lush’s cloth buyer, he had this to say:
“We think that there’s a connection between us humans and soil, each supporting one another to live. We don’t want an end to this ecological cycle that we have built up. Our main goal is to regenerate our environment and our community, but we have one more dream that is very important to us. It is a regeneration of people’s state of mind.”
The Knot Wrap is now available in 49 countries and, though sold as gift wrap for Lush products, can be used several different ways, such as a headband or scarf. This trendy way to incorporate an entire community’s livelihood is not only socially-conscious but also just incredibly humane.