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SUSTAINABLE COSMETICS GURU, DAME ANITA RODDICK, DEAD OF BRAIN HEMORRHAGE

RODDICK USED HER SUCCESS AS A BUSINESSWOMAN TO AID ORPHANS IN ROMANIA, SPONSOR FOOD AND SHELTER PROGRAMS FOR THE HOMELESS IN LONDON AND HELP MANY HUMAN GLOBAL RIGHTS AGENCIES.

anitaroddick.jpgThe environment lost a friend yesterday with the passing from a brain hemorrhage of cosmetics entrepreneur, Anita Roddick. Ms. Roddick, the founder of cosmetics manufacturer/retailer, the Body Shop. was 64 years old.

A true eco-warrior, Anita Roddick, was one of the first modern day entrepreneurs to practice sustainable business practices. This was decades before they would fashionably break into mainstream business.

But fashion, or at least the ‘putting on airs’ was not what this courageous cosmetics entrepreneur was all about. Leveraging her position, and the Body Shop’s global network of stores – over two thousand at last count –to fight for what she believed in, was.

This included, in the early days of her career, fighting to ban the then industry standard of testing new product formulas on animals.

Today it is quite common to see the words ‘not tested on animals’ displayed prominently on many of the world’s finest cosmetic and beauty product packages. But this was not the case in the late 1970’s when the Body Shop and Ms. Roddick were starting out.

But then, it wasn’t fashionable either – particularly not for a woman – to use one’s purchasing muscle to bring about real, tangible changes in the lives of those from whom it purchased it’s supplies. Which is precisely what Ms. Roddick did with her now famous “Trade not Aid” campaign.

Believing that it was far better to offer indigenous people a path to financial self-sufficiency than a one time financial handout, the Body Shop, under Ms. Roddick’s leadership, instituted “Trade not Aid”, which was a policy of puerchasing, whenever possible, many of the raw ingredients featured in the company’s proprietary line of sustainable beauty products and cosmetics, from indigenous tribes in remote areas of the world.

A major success, “Trade not Aid”, created a ripple in the continuum that will be felt for generations to come through the contributions of the descendants of those whom the program helped. A more fitting legacy than this one could not hope to achieve.

And to think that it all started in a dingy little store that was in such bad repair that Ms. Roddick had to use common house paint –in this case the green color that would be closely associated with the Body Shop over the years – to cover up the mold that was slowly overtaking the premises.

But humble conditions notwithstanding, this first store was also the birthplace of many of the concepts, which would set the Body Shop apart from other companies in it’s industry.

Perhaps the best known of these was the company’s container recycling campaign, which encouraged Body Shop customers to return empty product bottles to the store for refilling. This enabled the customer to save a little money on the purchase and created less waste to wind up in already overcrowded landfills.

But the story of Anita Roddick does not end with the Body Shop, and her achievements in that context. There is more, far more. In recent years, after relinquishing day-to-day control of the Body Shop to professional managers, Ms. Roddick refocused her boundless energy on a cause close to her heart, that of human rights, specifically, Third World debt relief, aiding orphans in Romania, and closer to home sponsoring food and shelter campaigns for the homeless in London.

It is in these areas where Ms. Roddick’s loss will truly be felt.

RIP “Queen of Green”. You have set an example we will be hard pressed to follow. But try we will.

-LIB

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