Issue 42 / The Body Shop Celebrates 40 Years With Commitment to Enrich, Not Exploit

The Body Shop Celebrates 40 Years With Commitment to Enrich, Not Exploit

Mar 27, 2016

The beauty brand takes their commitment to the planet to the next level. 

The Body Shop is celebrating their 40th anniversary by making a bold statement — they want to be the most sustainable and ethical company in the world. As their latest campaign puts it, they want to enrich not exploit. They want to enrich the lives of people around the world, they want to enrich the planet and they want to enrich their products.

The company, which is already known for using community fair trade ingredients and their efforts toward sustainability, has committed to 14 targets that they have set out to achieve by 2020.

The 14 commitments made by The Body Shop are as follows:

Enrich Our People

1. Double our Community Trade program from 19 to 40 ingredients and help enrich communities that produce them.
2. Help 40,000 economically vulnerable people access work around the world.
3. Engage eight million people in our Enrich Not Exploit Commitment mission, creating our biggest campaign ever.
4. Invest 250,000 hours of our skills and know-how to enrich the biodiversity of our local communities.

Enrich Our Products

5. Ensure 100 per cent of our natural ingredients are traceable and sustainably sourced, protecting 10,000 hectares of forest and other habitat.
6. Reduce year on year the environmental footprint of all our product categories.
7. Publish our use of ingredients of natural origin, ingredients from green chemistry, and the biodegradability and water footprint of our products.
8. Develop an innovation pipeline that delivers pioneering cosmetic ingredients from biodiversity hotspots and which helps to enrich these areas.

Enrich Our Planet

9. Build Bio-Bridges, protecting and regenerating 75 million square metres of habitat helping communities to live more sustainably.
10. Reduce the environmental footprint of our stores every time we refurbish or redesign them.
11. Develop and deliver three new sustainable packaging innovations.
12. Ensure that 70 per cent of our total product packaging does not contain fossil fuels.
13. Power 100 per cent of our stores with renewable or carbon balanced energy.
14. Reduce by 10 per cent the energy use of all our stores every year.

The Body Shop's commitmens. 
Photo credit: The Body Shop


I had the opportunity to speak with Christopher Davis, international director corporate social responsibility at a recent event held by The Body Shop in Toronto. He gave me more detail about the company’s commitment to enrich the world and people, while making their products even better and more effective.

Rosemina Nazarli: Can you tell me a bit more about some of the new targets?

Christopher Davis: I guess the key thing that I want to say is that the new strategy is about aiming for true sustainability. These are all science-based targets which have been influenced by talking to key academics who've said, "If you want to be a truly sustainable company, this is a journey you need to take." So we have 14 targets. If you were to ask me what I'm most excited about, I think I'm most excited about the doubling of our community trade program. Our community trade program is already the biggest in the industry. We pioneered it. [The Body Shop’s founder] Anita [Roddick] created it. And we're going to double it. So I think the exciting thing there is that we can benefit more people and we can source more high quality, natural, often organic ingredients to go into our products. It's a win for society, it's a win for the environment, and it's a win for our customers as well. I think that one is a fascinating one.

RN: Is there one target that stands out as the one that can make the most impact?

CD: I think that the one that is most challenging but also has the potential to be most impactful is the one about sustainable packaging. You heard a little bit today about Air Carbon. Air Carbon is a first innovation, it's made from methanes, which is a greenhouse gas. So by taking greenhouse gases out, we are actually having a very positive effect on climate change. If we can take that one to scale, that has a potential to be a game changer. It’s something our customers will love and drive our road towards true sustainability.

What happened with Air Carbon is that their people came to us, and what I'm hoping moving forward is that other people will come to us with more innovations that we can embrace and take to scale.

RN: What was the inspiration behind the 14 targets?

CD: The inspiration was very much science. When we were creating the commitment, we had a number of options. We could either do a little bit better than other companies or we could do a little bit better than our past performance. But what we decided to do was talk to a lot of academics and they said sustainability programs are not really delivering. All they are doing is making things a little less bad. So if you cut your carbon by five per cent, the fact is you're still putting out loads of carbon. We didn't want to do that. We talked to the academics who said, if you base your business around seven principles, seven scientific principles, such as ensuring all the things used to create your products to drive your business, leave no bad impact. then you are on the path to true scientific sustainability. That is absolutely the inspiration behind all of these targets.

Chris Davis, international director of corporate social responsibility, The Body Shop International
Photo credit: The Body Shop

RN: Has the science backed your goal to reach these goals by 2020?

CD: Science hasn't backed us up, the business has. The people in our company believe we have a good chance of making all of these, [it’s] not definite by any means. We don’t know how we're going to reach all of them. But I think that's what's quite exciting about the business — because we don't know. It's a motivator. And if the targets were easy, they'd probably be a PR exercise. This isn't a PR exercise, this is business transformation. This is change.

RN: How do you ensure that you're using natural ingredients, fair trade, vegetarian, while also making a high-quality product?

CD: It's a great question and a real challenge. I think high quality products come from the things you put in them, obviously. Whether it's makeup or bath and body care, we are always focused on ensuring it's the best natural ingredients. Community trade is in 93 per cent of all of our products, including makeup. And community trade ingredients by their nature, because we know the farmers, we know where they're sourced, are our priority. Under the new commitment, you're going to see an acceleration of that road because, as well as doubling community trade, we also have a target of all of our natural ingredients being 100 per cent sustainable and traceable. That's for a new level of sustainability and a new level of traceability which by its nature is going to be a higher quality products. So what you'll be seeing in the future is better product because the things that we put in them are better.

RN: We know the Body Shop has a huge presence in Canada. I'd love to learn more about the Body Shop's presence in India and your involvement in that part of the world.

CD: In India, we are quite a new business. The first thing that India did actually when they opened was embrace a campaign around women and violence. So from the very beginning, the Indian business of The Body Shop embraced this philosophy of business for social change, which is a really positive sign… When you look at it from a business perspective, one of the things that makes The Body Shop stand out is this philosophy of being a better business because we are more sustainable. And because we are aiming for true sustainability. And that's something that does as well in India as it does in Canada. It's a global angle.

You can learn more about The Body Shop’s commitment here.

Main Image Photo Credit: The Body Shop

Rosemina Nazarali


Rosemina (@RoseminaN) is a writer and content strategist who has a special place in her heart for beauty. She’s always on the pulse of current trends and loves trying new products -- especially if they are brown-skin worthy! When she’s not playing with makeup, she’s travelling, going to concer...


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