On Wednesday afternoon, June 9, a salesperson in Paseo Nuevo was dressed in nothing but a barrel—or a paper likeness thereof—to promote Lush Cosmetics’ campaign against crude oil production in Canada. Lush Cosmetics, a small niche company that markets organic, eco-friendly soaps, wants to redirect some of the media unrest over the Gulf towards the Tar Sands project in Alberta. “We’re raising awareness about a serious issue but we’re doing it in a cheeky way,” says the store’s barrel-clad manager — the idea being to appeal for decency with semi-decent exposure.

The Canadian Boreal forest — an area in north-eastern Alberta, downstream of the Rockies and about the size of the Mojave Desert — contains two trillion barrels of tar sand oil, but the process of obtaining it emits three to five times more greenhouse gases than conventional oil production. Furthermore, expanding the tar sands project means cutting down the forest.

According to the campaign, the U.S. funds about 70 percent of the tar sands project in oil imports.

Lush’s ad campaign consists of three components: having a barrel-naked employee at the front door, petitioning to stop tar sands imports to the U.S., and selling bath bombs to benefit the Rainforest Action Network, a nonprofit aimed at protecting forests. The bath bombs — pink and yellow flower-shaped talcums that effervesce when wet — are priced at $6 apiece.

The campaign will last two weeks. Their goal is to get 300 signatures and sell at least 200 bath bombs, while reinforcing their image as an ethical cosmetics company and using soap to wash away the dirtiest of oil.


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