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Oct 10.28

Canadian Kelp Resources: meet our seaweed supplier!

About 150 miles west of our Vancouver kitchen lies the tiny isolated coastal village of Bamfield. Here, husband-and-wife team Dr. Louis Druehl and Rae Hopkins make up Canadian Kelp Resources: a local business that’s been supplying LUSH with bladderwrack seaweed (or “rockweed” as Louis fondly refers to it) for 10 years. We use Canadian Kelp’s freshly-harvested seaweed in loads of our inventions, from shampoo and conditioner to fresh face masks, for its rich mineral content and softening properties on the skin and hair. Louis has taught marine botany for over 30 years, has published books about seaweed and even has a type of seaweed named after him— the man knows his seaweed! We recently got the opportunity to speak with Louisabout his business and how his wife got hooked on LUSH!

Rae Hopkins and Dr. Louis Druehl, harvesting bladderwrack seaweed to fulfil our standing order.

How did Canadian Kelp Resources get started?

We started Canadian Kelp 31 or 32 years ago. We started by producing sea vegetables, which essentially are dry kelp products sold in health food stores. Somewhere along the way we got connected to you folks at LUSH and we’ve been supplying you with rock weed for a long time.

Can you speak to any of the benefits to using seaweed on the skin or hair?

I can say that the rockweed that you guys use is very rich in fucoxanthin. It’s a highly-touted antioxidant. It’s also rich in fucoidan, this is the so-called slime of seaweed. It’s a sulfated carbohydrate, which is attributed to having many possible benefits for health issues, particularly issues to do with aging such as diabetes and some cancers perhaps…it’s hard to say, it’s not really nailed down. But it’s out there and people are aware of that.

Your sustainable harvesting methods are quite important to us at LUSH. Can you describe what’s involved in harvesting our seaweed sustainably?

We harvest your rockweed from Dixon Island in the Barkley Sound (about 6 miles west of Bamfield) where we have a provincial permit to harvest. There’s about 300 yards of shoreline that we harvest from. We start at one end, and each time LUSH puts in an order, we go out and collect for that order along the shoreline. We harvest the seaweed from the rocks by hand: we cut it, but leave the live plant behind so they continue to grow after harvesting. Within a year, the seaweed will grow back—you wouldn’t be able to tell we’d been there. When we get to the end of the shore, which takes a couple of years, we go back to the beginning and we do it again. Harvesting by hand is very labor-intensive but it’s extremely sustainable. It’s almost the same as cutting your lawn.

You also do some bioremediation consulting—what’s involved with that type of work?

We consult with various NGOs that are concerned about the loss of kelp beds. They’re losing large stretches of what’s called the bowl kelp and we’ve been advising groups on how they might re-establish them. We also produce what we call kelp seed, which isn’t really seed, but baby kelp plants that the groups can plant to try to re-establish these natural beds.

What’s the benefit of keeping these beds active?

Those beds give the ocean bottom a third dimension; otherwise it’d just be a flat bottom. It’s putting an infrastructure of living tissue into the water column. This infrastructure can support life: fish like young salmon can hide in there from predators. Other animals like abalone, sea urchins and snails will come in there and will eat the plants themselves. Other organisms will go in and eat organisms that are hanging onto the kelp. So it’s kind of a big cafeteria and a sanctuary at the same time. They are very crucial.

Have you tried any of our LUSH products that we use your seaweed in?

(Laughs) That’s funny, we hadn’t... A couple of years ago some folks from LUSH came out and visited us. They left a bunch of products behind and my wife tried them. Now there’s not a time we go to town (about once a month) that she doesn’t stop off at LUSH and pick up something. You’ll be happy to know that any profit we’re making from you we’re probably giving back to you (laughs).

We use Canadian Kelp’s Bladderwrack seaweed in: BB Seaweed Fresh Face Mask, Daddy-O Shampoo, Skin’s Shangri-La facial moisturizer, Big shampoo and Big solid conditioner.