I Polluted My Bathtub for the Sea Turtles With the Help of Lush's Bath Bomb

When I was a kid, I saw the sea turtles in Costa Rica giving birth on the beach. It was 2 A.M. on New Year’s, and I was grumpy and jet-lagged. Seven really isn’t an age where you savor once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but my parents were insistent that they’d sleep in their clothes, and my brother and I would straggle out of bed in pajamas. I have a blurry memory of passing through a thick crowd of revelers in the hotel’s dining room, and going outside into a dark back passageway. We joined the groups of people that hotel employees were silently guiding to see the turtles laying eggs, their yearly evolutionary programming.

Everything was dark, and you could only hear the waves of the ocean on the edge of the forest. I remember seeing this bizarre ritual of nature: A gigantic, eight-foot, 700-lb. turtle heaving herself up, a single-minded presence that was slick and dark and determined, driven by intuition. She dug a hole and shot out a bucket’s-worth of golfball-sized eggs, so that when they cracked free, one or two baby turtles would make it through the hungry gulls to the once-safety of the sea. Then she was done, and pushed back into the surf. Out, back to the ocean, to live on the currents now that she’d insured the continuation of the species. The pure power, I mean, the majesty.

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Now, nearly two decades later, I think about this experience when a headline pops up about how human consumption and pollution are harming our marine life. Our sunscreens are damaging coral reefs. Turtles are choking on floating plastic bags thinking they’re jellyfish. We have an administration that’s denying the very real—scientifically proven—effects of global warming on our planet.

Thankfully many beauty brands are wising up to the role their products play and are coming out with more eco-friendly packaging and nature-safe ingredients. Lush has long been a leader in the space, but this month it’s going a step further. As out-there as it sounds, the brand’s new Turtle Jelly Bomb mimics the conditions that turtles have been forced into because of plastic pollution. You need to know what’s going on to stop it, and since it also involved taking a bath, I, a good Samaritan, was down.

The Turtle Jelly Bomb starts out looking like a little cutie before you drop it in. It smells powerfully like mint and spruce trees, which comes from the pine, sea salt, and sandalwood in the ingredients. Lush truly put the jelly effect to good use here. Where normally it gives your bath water a moisturizing, albeit odd consistency, in this case it was easy to imagine it was a turtle’s wrecked ecosystem. The effect is a slippery, slimy algae-esque experience of gross textures, with unsettlingly soft chunks of slime floating around. Really: the brand went all out, and packed the bomb with chunks of agar “seaweed” to represent straws and other pieces of plastic floating in the ocean.

I have never empathized so hard with reptiles. Can you imagine being a turtle and trying to, I don’t know, do turtle things like the above, and everything you touch is covered in the equivalent of toxic Nickleodeon slime? It feels like that, or like everything’s coated in a thin layer of grease. Doing anything gets difficult, and that matters—including turtles, over 100 million sea creatures die every year.

PHOTO: Rachel Nussbaum

PHOTO: Rachel Nussbaum

However, the bomb was a very pretty green-blue and I did in fact ‘gram. Given the pollution theme, I was expecting the clean-up to be rough. Thankfully, the green residue that had climbed up the sides of the tub went down the drain easily, and the little splotches of green “seaweed” went down too.

It was actually one of the cleaner Lush bath products I’ve ever tried, which is on theme—the brand is backing up its awareness-raising by working with coastal environmental partners to collect ocean-bound plastic, the brand says, with the goal to use it for packaging down the line. It also supports The Sea Change Agency, which hosts paddle-boarding trips off the coast of L.A. to collect plastic.

Between the thick layer of grimy pollution that Sephora’s vacuum facial took off my face and this, it’s safe to say my life has never been gunkier. I wouldn’t have it any other way. If it helps raise awareness, it’s worth it.

Lush Turtle Jelly Bomb, $8, To donate directly to the Sea Change Agency, click here.

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