[EXCLUSIVE] Dive Into Sustainability In Green Beauty With Lush Malaysia’s Director, Harvinder Harchand
Image credits: Lush Malaysia
Beginning with their must-have bath bombs, Lush has made us all fall in love with their evergreen-ing releases — read on for more insights from Harvinder Harchand on Lush Malaysia’s non-stop mission for sustainability in green beauty.
In the modern beauty game, the race is on to create more ethical, vegan-friendly, cruelty-free and overall environment-friendly products that do not skimp out on quality. Basically, if you ain’t going green these days then don’t even bother leaving home in the first place.
The British-founded brand that made us all go crazy for psychedelic bath bombs (and us Malaysians wishing we had a bath tub) has been one of the founding mothers of the green beauty movement that’s catapulted many other beauty companies to follow suit. Although Lush has been around for 25 years (and still going strong), it really started making a name for itself with the sudden birth of these bath bombs that permeated every facet of social media a few years ago.
Beloved by influencers Kylie Jenner and Jeffree Star among others, Lush transitioned from a niche, hipster-friendly label to a huge mainstream contender. After popping up at many countries across the world, Lush finally reached our shores about a year ago with a second outlet that’s opened up at Sunway Pyramid — YAY!
We got the chance to chat with Lush Malaysia’s Director, Harvinder Harchand on Lush’s trailblazing journey in green beauty and sustainability. Growing up in an eco-conscious family, Harvinder’s devoted passion to the environment is evident and infectious, so it’s no surprise that such is the same with her dedication to the globally renowned green beauty brand.
How is Lush’s green beauty business plan becoming even greener?
One of the ways is going naked, meaning we try to make do without packaging when we can, like our soaps and body gels. If we do require packaging [as some items need it], we ensure that the materials are recycled so we don’t take more plastics into our production — this needs to be endorsed by companies in Malaysia. What I mean to say is that they also need to contribute from their end since Lush is doing it too. There has to be proper systems in place to guarantee that trash goes into the right recycling centres and not into the sea where it affects our marine animals. Plus, we produce completely biodegradable products, meaning there’s no microplastics in our scrubs and toothpastes. We are also cruelty-free because there is no need to test on animals, right? We also buy from ethical companies; our raw materials are sourced from reputable companies that practise ethical awareness among their staff, pay employees and stand against child-labour. Lush is very particular about that so that’s how we sustain based on our values.
What are the biggest and surprising challenges faced when trying to create and distribute these sustainable products?
Generally, we realise that there are certain generation gaps — some people who care about it and some who don’t. It is also related to upbringing so educating the community is very important, thus we have ad campaigns. We take steps by heading to schools and working with certain organisations to create this awareness. We’ve gone to three or four schools, including where the orang aslis are, and talked about what plastics are and how they damage us and the environment, especially in our country. Do we want to see beaches in the future or watch it on TV? It all comes down to educating from young. When you are implanted with this, it just stays with you and you impart it to others. We also need to ensure that our curriculum and education system is also moving a step in the right direction.
Speaking of surprising, a survey showed that most people, particularly millennials, want to buy green products yet only about 26% do so. What would you like to say to encourage those 26% to change their minds?
We can see the damage done so we need to create an awareness on the consequences that are already here. If we do not change, it is not going to get any better for us. And how do we do this? Through campaigns, because seeing is believing. We’ve cleared up dirty beaches and seen turtles returning to shores. We have also seen India, Philippines and Indonesia doing it successfully. People have taken the trouble to go volunteer and the only way that you can change their minds is seeing, believing and the outcome. There’s no easier way to that.
Besides sharing concern for Mother Earth and pumping out great green products, what more do you think can be done by beauty companies to go greener?
I think they just have to have the values that Lush does. It’s very clear and straightforward and I think everyone is achieving it somehow or rather encouraging people to return items and give them products in return. In short, that’s my simple answer. With that, we can start improving the environment of the country and globally within a certain period of time.
“It all comes down to educating from young. When you are implanted with this, it just stays with you and you impart it to others.”
You’ve mentioned that you plan to have at least one special product for Malaysians if you open another store. Has that goal come to life or is it still in the works? If so, why and what are the challenges?
I would say it’s still in progress. Recently, it’s because we are lucky enough to constantly launch during the year end — it’s been our lucky star. So, we always have new products for Christmas, hence that one [Malaysian] product is not going to do anything for us — I think the Christmas ones are more fulfilling. Lush is happy to work with us but it is more logical to have more stores as the quantity will be there, so we are working on it.
Since we’re reminiscing about Lush Malaysia’s first success, is the idea of a Lush Spa in Malaysia still floating about?
I believe it will happen but not anytime soon — hopefully in the future.
You’ve mentioned that Lush’s way is all about how you want to feel today. So, what do you feel like buying today that you’d like to promote to Malaysians?
Okay, it’s difficult to promote something that may not suit you because Lush is very personalised but I’d say if there’s anything that’s precisely good for someone to buy, come in to the store and consult with us — that would be the best because every skin type is different. In terms of my favourites, it’s quite a line-up actually [haha] but I’ll break it down. I use Jersey Bounce shampoo, American Cream conditioner and H’Suan Wen Hua hair treatment on a weekly basis. If you’re talking about the face, I love the Angels on Bare Skin cleanser, Tea Tree Water Toner, Gorgeous moisturizer, Enchanted Eye Cream and… that’s my routine!