Akhila is a Justmeans staff writer for CSR and ethical consumption. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she i...
How green is The Shop?: CSR at Body Shop
I write this at a time when Body Shop has just launched its Rainforest range of products and is already receiving rave reviews. The range is said to contain no silicones, parabens, sulphates and colorants. Using ingredients from the Amazonian rainforests, it has created a range that is free from harmful chemicals that are found so commonly in almost all commercially available products. Extending its concepts of corporate responsibility, Body Shop has bought a part of the Brazilian rain-forest nearly 80 km northeast of Rio de Janeiro to prevent biodiversity loss. This helped the brand to protect more than 20,000 plant species and a number of endangered fauna species from destructive human activities.
Body Shop was founded on a strong model of CSR even before the concept of corporate responsibility became mainstream. Anita Roddick, the founder was a staunch environmentalist and she has helped shape the face of ethical consumerism. The company was one of the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals and one of the first to promote fair trade with third world countries. It has also run campaigns to improve human rights and creating awareness about the planet. This has created a firmly loyal customer base for the brand.
They are currently a campaign against child sex trafficking. They engage with the communities from which they gather many of their natural ingredients and work to uplift them through fair trade as well as by other means. Most of its products contain all-natural ingredients and they aim to formulate their products without the addition of harmful chemicals and synthetic preservatives. They were also one of the first companies to switch to sustainable sources of palm oil.
It was founded in 1976 in Brighton and was poshly called 'The Shop' and by 1991 it had 700 branches. In 2006, cosmetic company L'Oreal purchased Body Shop and this caused great controversy because L'Oreal was involved in animal testing and the company is also part-owned by Nestle which has had its own share of CSR critiques. Roddick at that time said that through the sale of her company she will have a role in influencing the biggest cosmetic giants and play a role in changing big-business CSR. So far Body Shop has managed to operate on its own terms - it still is against animal testing and with the launch of innovative products it has been pushing the boundaries of CSR.
True to Roddick's predictions, L'Oreal will be going cruelty-free by 2013. It has also boosted its own CSR profile in the past few years by paying attention to reducing its environmental impacts. It of course still has a long way to go in terms of improving its ingredients, packaging among other things. Just recently it was found that two of its lipsticks contained the highest amounts of lead among all that were tested by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
Since the acquisition of Body Shop by L'Oreal there have been speculations of whether the brand has been green-washing its consumer base merely through its association with a big cosmetic giant. Some of these claims are unfounded but some remain true. The fact does remain that CSR at Body Shop has grown in the recent years and perhaps this may not have been possible without the support of L'Oreal.