A beauty brand with a handcrafted touch approaches building schools the same way.
Top Right: Lush North America co-owner Karen Delaney Wolverton (front) helps a student paint a middle school during an employee volunteer trip to Guatemala in March; Bottom Right: Students in traditional attire; Botton Middle: Constructing a school requires 6,500 to 10,000 bottles, depending on its size.It takes community
When Lush's first store opened in Poole, England, in 1995, the founders bought raw materials at markets and whipped up bath bombs and soaps on the second floor. The company still has homespun appeal—all products remain 100 percent vegetarian, aren't tested on animals, and are made from ethically sourced fruits, vegetables, herbs, and essential oils. The philosophy goes beyond ingredients. "We strive to support causes we believe in," says Mark Wolverton, CEO and president of Lush North America. In 2007, the company launched Charity Pot, a lotion whose entire proceeds (minus taxes) go toward funding projects for small grassroots organizations. Lush has given more than $4.75 million to 400-plus charities in 35 countries, including Hug It Forward, a San Diego–based nonprofit that works with communities in Latin America to make "bottle schools" out of plastic soda bottles that are filled with trash and then stacked and covered in concrete. Since 2011, Lush has provided construction costs for three elementary schools in San Martín Jilotepeque, Guatemala. Employees also help build and paint the schools as part of Lush's Employee Volunteer Program. "We need more corporations like Lush," says Zach Balle, president of Hug It Forward. "The company is conscious not only about the products it makes and the people it employs, but the impact it has on the world."