The Checkout

Naked for a Cause

Ylan Mui

Some companies donate money to their favorite causes. Others put their CEO on the boards of important nonprofits or organize their staff for a volunteer day.

Beauty retailer Lush asked their employees to get naked.

Oh, we are so there.

The premise is that excess packaging is bad for the environment because it uses precious resources and wastes space in delivery trucks, which in turn wastes fuel. Lush bills itself as a "deli-style" beauty bar that sells soaps, shampoos, even deodorant in solid form and unwrapped -- aka naked -- which the company says makes the products more environmentally friendly.

To hammer home that point, Lush asked its employees to strip themselves free of clothing the way it strips its shampoo of packaging. Participating staffers (nakedness was voluntary) could only don a black apron that read, "Ask my why I'm naked." No tank top, no jeans, no undies. Nada.

Not all Lush stores joined in. But at the Lush store in Georgetown, three employees got naked: Store manager Jenn Shakan, 27; Aris Slater, 19; and Ginger Farnham, 29. They seemed surprisingly unfazed about baring it all.

"What have I got to lose, really?" Farnham said.

She said her boyfriend was worried about it, but then decided it was like the way waiters at Johnny Rockets have to sing even if they don't like the songs. Slater said her man was a little too into the idea and she told him to stay away.

The ladies stepped out onto M Street at noon and handed out leaflets (printed on recycled paper) explaining the problems of packaging: "Lush says packaging is rubbish!" Later in the afternoon, Shakan reported there were a lot of surprised looks but no major disturbances. Sales were up for the afternoon.

"They definitely stand by their beliefs," she said of the company. "That's why I'm comfortable doing it."

Well, it was certainly a memorable publicity stunt! It reminds me of how PETA likes to parade around Playboy bunnies and dress people in lettuce.

By Ylan Mui |  August 27, 2008; 4:48 PM ET Consumer News , Marketing , Ylan Mui
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