A friend of the Earth

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Saving the planet and educating the public are vital goals for one company, writes Meena Sreenivasan

.THE Body Shop believes the natural environment is everything living and non-living that occurs naturally on earth. With its slogan, Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good, it has, over the years, embarked on various campaigns and projects.

With its Protect The Planet philosophy, it raises awareness and funds for its  NGO partners. One of its biggest campaigns to date is Save Belum Temengor in which it partnered with the Malaysian Nature Society to gazette the oldest rainforest in the world.

The Save Temengor campaign was to get the vast forest gazetted the same way as Belum, a smaller section of the forest.

To raise awareness in-store, customers signed the petition and pledged their signatures towards the cause. The Body Shop also trained its employees to talk about the wonders of nature to get more people to visit the forest and increase eco-tourism.

After Belum received royal status with the 100,000 postcards that The Body Shop collected back in 2007, employees geared up to collect another 80,000 for Save Temengor campaign.

All 58 outlets participated in collecting petitions from customers. With more than 80,000 signatures in hand, the company approached the Perak State Government to urge it to get the forest gazetted.

PROTECTING THE PLANET
In conjunction with the 70th Anniversary of The Malaysian Nature Society, The Body Shop received accolades from other environmental organisations, and was presented with an award for Environmental Excellence in 2011.

The importance of protecting the planet was also emphasised via messages printed on paper bags, as an education tool for customers and as a continuation of the Kick The Bag Habit campaign which started in 2006.

Customers are encouraged to refuse a bag in order to reduce the number of paper bags that end up in landfills. Customers are charged 50 sen for a bag, which was donated to environment-related NGO. If they refused a bag, The Body Shop would donated the amount on customers’ behalf.

“Customers were encouraged to reuse, reduce and recycle by bringing their own bag whenever they shopped or simply refusing a bag to save the environment,” says The Body Shop managing director Datin Mina Cheah-Foong. “We are also helping to raise funds for various organisations that contribute to protecting the planet.”

So far, it has raised RM1 million and saved 2 million paper bags. The money collected was handed over to NGOs including The Malaysian Nature Society and Traffic South East Asia.

“While the campaign is crucial for fund-raising, it also acts as a cost-saving measure. The more people are influenced to not take a bag, the fewer bags will be purchased, allowing the company to cut costs,” she adds.

VISION CONTINUES
The Body Shop’s vision to Protect The Planet continues with Where’s My Mama campaign, in which it teams up with Traffic South East Asia to draw awareness about jungle animals that lose their mothers as a result of poaching and illegal logging. It has printed more than 100,000 paper bags for use in-store, to highlight the plight of these animals.

In order to gain public awareness, the bags carry cute and catchy pictures of orang utan, tiger and sun bear which are all close to extinction and in dire need of protection.

“We also included the Traffic hotline number for people to call and report if they suspect any illegal activity. The calls went from four and five to 100 in the first month. Gazetting the Belum rainforest alone was not enough as illegal poaching and logging resulted in many animals dying,” says Cheah-Foong.

The campaign also draws light to the fact that, for sustainable biodiversity and to ensure the continuous survival of jungle animals, exotic meat should not be consumed. It also reiterates that wild animals belong in the wild and not as domestic pets at home.