A TRIO of shop workers were warned they were risking arrest after they staged a cheeky stunt in Bournemouth town centre yesterday.

Manager of Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, Verity Herrington, and assistants Dani Ferris and Beth Palumbo braved Old Christchurch Road shopping precinct wearing nothing but their aprons.

They were handing out leaflets urging shoppers to buy "bare" or unpackaged goods for the sake of the environment.

But within minutes, police stepped in after receiving complaints from five shocked passers-by. An officer told the girls they would have to put their knickers on if they wanted to go back out on the street.

"People don't understand. We're making a stand against excess packaging," said Verity. "We'd prefer not to be naked, but it's the only way of getting our point across and to encourage them to use naked products. We volunteered to do it because we feel strongly about the issue."

Similar events - some including male assistants - were taking place at the same time in 55 other towns and cities across the UK as part of the Lush campaign.

The Poole-based company claims to be leading the cosmetics industry in its efforts to cut out unnecessary packaging. It has pioneered solid shampoo and conditioner bars and sells a range of other products wrapped in just paper.

Lush founder Mark Constantine is presenting a programme about the subject on Channel 4 at 7pm today. "Packaging is rubbish and for too long we have had to suffer excessive amounts of it," he said.

"Now that the true financial and environmental costs are becoming obvious, customer are challenging manufacturers and retailers to cut the wrap."

The UK generates around 10 million tonnes of packaging waste each year, half of it ending up in landfill.

An average family will unwittingly spend £470 on packaging each year.