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Lush Employees Disrobe for Cause

Shed clothing, don aprons to raise awareness for environmental issues.

Employees of Lush Cosmetics let at least some of it hang out Wednesday in protest of what they insist is the cosmetics industry’s tendency to overdress products. The store employees took to the sidewalks of Manhattan — sans clothing — to promote the British beauty brand’s environmentally friendly philosophy of reduced packaging.

Roughly 16 store associates at the brand’s Herald Square, Union Square and SoHo locations volunteered to don only an apron reading, “Ask me why I’m naked,” which offered frontal coverage but still allowed for a very cheeky view.

The activity, which was to involve 200 employees from 27 Lush stores in 23 U.S. cities, was meant to raise awareness about the “environmental effects that overpackaging is having,” a spokeswoman said, especially “the creation, transportation and disposal of plastic bottles.”

Sixty percent of the Lush product assortment, including its solid shampoos, conditioners and other skin and body care items, are packaging-free. The Lush products are designed to resemble deli food products and therefore need no outer packaging.

Starting at noon Wednesday, the Lush associates began the protest, and at Herald Square, employees stepped out for about 30 minutes, attracting a crowd estimated to number 50. After heading back inside, police paid a visit, and in what the spokeswoman said was a cordial back-and-forth, officers “just wanted to make sure we were not going back out.”

This is the second time in as many years that Lush employees in New York have disrobed for the cause. Stores in cities including Boston, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle were also to participate.

The first such “naked campaign” was held in the U.K. in June 2007 and overall, stores in 10 countries have taken part, the brand noted, including Canada, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Holland, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Packaged Lush products come in material made of 100 percent postconsumer waste, according to the firm, which estimates that three million plastic bottles were saved last year as a result of customers buying solid shampoo bars.