CARMEL, Calif. - Employees at Lush Cosmetics in Carmel stripped down to nothing but their aprons outside of the store in downtown Wednesday to generate awareness about excess packaging and its impact on the environment.
“I mean this looks like something you’d see in Vegas or New York or L.A.,” said Ed Cristal who almost couldn’t believe the sight of several Lush store employees practically naked on Ocean Avenue. “I mean...my God...Carmel!”
The partial nudity is a part of a nationwide campaign at the retail stores to educate the public that “over-packaging is rubbish,” according to a news release from the company.
“Lots of plastic containers with cosmetics are filling our waterways and we are highlighting that today by shedding all of our clothes, except for our aprons, to bring some awareness to the issue,” said Michelle Gianopulos, manager of Lush Cosmetics in Carmel.
According to the store, roughly 300,000 tons of debris from plastic packaging is in the ocean, which the store says can affect both humans and animals.
“It’s kind of a closed-loop system in the sense that fish are eating the plastics or microbeads, for example, and then it ends up back on our dinner plates and we are eating those fish,” Gianopulos said. “It’s just a really bad process.”
Good cause or not, within an hour of the employees getting undressed someone called the city. An inspector showed up and cited a code that says the store can’t conduct business outside.
Though employees had to move inside, many who passed by said they appreciate the creativity and the fact that more than 35 percent of the store’s products are un-packaged. All of the plastic packaging they do have is post-consumer recycled plastic.
“I think the message is very good that we should use less products to wrap our products in,” said Joyce Tall, a passerby who stopped and was, at first, in disbelief.
"It's absolutely a good message, it makes an impact and definitely makes you remember the store,” said Eileen Mitchell who was also pleased by message.
Others appeared uncomfortable as they passed by with their eyes fixed away from the semi-nudity.
“I think they kind of just peacefully pass by and that’s to be expected. Not everything is going to reach everyone the same,” Gianopulos said.
Even though the city inspector came by and told employees to move things inside, the store employees say they will continue to spread their message this Saturday. This time, though, that will happen indoors.