Anita Roddick, Green Pioneer, Dead at 64

This week, I’m pouring out my organic beer in memory of The Body Shop founder Dame Anita Roddick, who died of a brain hemorrhage on Tuesday at age 64. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown hailed her as “a true pioneer…She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so, and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market."

Roddick began her line of natural beauty products for flower children back in 1976, near the beginning of the environmental movement. She was one of the first to eliminate the wasteful packaging of cosmetics and beauty products, and the first to take a stand against animal testing, both of which are almost taken for granted these days, not to mention that she popularized the notion of “Trade Not Aid.” The Body Shop also affiliated itself with the ‘80s hot topics of recycling, AIDS, and human rights. Roddick herself was an activist who protested at the Seattle anti-WTO demonstrations, supported saving the rainforests, and spoke out against the ills of the beauty industry that fed her.

She was also one of the most recognized female business executives, and the best woman known entrepreneur in her native Britain, although The New York Times mused, “she was perhaps more beloved by those whose causes she supported than by her more conventional business peers.”

Questions have been raised as to some of Roddick’s business practices by John Entine, whose article “The Queen of Bubble Bath” brings up issues of scandal, organizational disarray, even unethical trade practices. The article also takes note of Anita and husband Gordon’s rather large carbon footprint, including flying polo horses about on chartered planes. Also among the article’s accusations are the use of large amounts of petrochemicals in Body Shop products. Not to mention that The Body Shop is now owned by L’Oreal, a corporation which may have been guilty of conducting a bit of animal testing in its time.

The list of Entine’s accusations goes on and on. Regardless of what the detractors claim, however, Anita Roddick was a woman who made a massive green impact in her 64 years on this planet. We should all be so “unethical.”


Awfully sad to see a good magazine give a discredited journalist with a pathological obsession with Anita such heavy play. What Anita has done in her life and will continue to do with her legacy and charitable foundation can no more be placed against Entine's goofy claims with equal weight than is an eaqle the equivalent of a fly. Poor journalism is about quoting "sources" in the interest of objectivity without checking the validity of the source - that he said something is enough? I learned in J-school to check every fact. I guess that's too much work? Anita deserves much better, and so do your readers.

Re: Your article about Anita Roddick's life.

Give me a break. Dead or alive she was a smart business person and an environmental opportunist.
We are already up to our elbows in hypocrisy. Please don't glorify it.
The last sentence of your article was a display of unnecessary pandering.
Emilio Bruna,II