American Spa April 2013 : Page 54

[ classroom ] Mohonk Mountain House’s eco-friendly spa incorporates a number of green initiatives. 54 AMERICAN SPA • WWW.SPATRADE.COM • APRIL 2013 PHOTOGRAPHY: SHUTTERSTOCK “A spa’s mission is to deliver health and wellness. The greener the spa, the better it performs its core mission.” Naturally Green WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE GREEN? THAT Discover how to make your spa a healthier place for both your clients and employees, as well as the environment. may not be an easy question to answer when words such as “organic,” “eco-friendly,” and “sustainable” abound in the industry. Green-ing your spa can win you clients and save you money. But only recently, according to the Green Spa Network (GSN), a non-pro t orga-nization that brings together spa professionals and industry experts, are spas making socially and environmentally responsible practices an intrinsic part of their businesses in contrast to reacting solely to external consumer demands and public relations campaigns. “A spa’s mission is to deliver health and wellness,” says GSN executive director Deb Berlin. “ e greener the spa, the better it performs its core mission.” Leading the pack, the GSN, in partnership with Green America, is launching the spa-speci c version of the GreenGain online tool this May, which will provide a customized, step-by-step guide for spas to implement and maintain green continued on page 56

Classroom: Naturally Green

Lisa Cheng

Naturally Green<br /> Discover how to make your spa a healthier place for both<br /> your clients and employees, as well as the environment.<br /> WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE GREEN? THAT<br /> may not be an easy question to answer when<br /> words such as “organic,” “eco-friendly,” and<br /> “sustainable” abound in the industry. Greening<br /> your spa can win you clients and save you<br /> money. But only recently, according to the<br /> Green Spa Network (GSN), a non-pro t organization<br /> that brings together spa professionals<br /> and industry experts, are spas making socially<br /> and environmentally responsible practices an<br /> intrinsic part of their businesses in contrast to<br /> reacting solely to external consumer demands<br /> and public relations campaigns. “A spa’s mission<br /> is to deliver health and wellness,” says GSN<br /> executive director Deb Berlin. “ e greener the<br /> spa, the better it performs its core mission.”<br /> Leading the pack, the GSN, in partnership<br /> with Green America, is launching the spa-speci c<br /> version of the GreenGain online tool this May,<br /> which will provide a customized, step-by-step<br /> guide for spas to implement and maintain green practices. The effort will be the sector’s first attempt<br /> at establishing industry-wide benchmarks for<br /> social and environmental sustainability.<br /> In the meantime, we’ve culled some tips from<br /> the GSN toolkit and talked to some industry leaders<br /> to help you to better align sustainability with<br /> your spa’s mission, values, and daily operations.<br /> Getting Started<br /> The amount of commitment, effort, and resources it<br /> takes to green a spa can be overwhelming—so much<br /> that it’s hard to take the first step. “Begin with the<br /> low-hanging fruit,” says Roberto Arjona, general<br /> manager of Rancho La Puerta (Tecate, Mexico).<br /> “Greening can be expensive if not done well, and<br /> spas cannot afford to go all the way at once.”<br /> Upon creating a compelling vision, developing<br /> a strategy, and establishing an action plan,<br /> Arjona recommends greening skincare and body<br /> products first, then reducing packaging and plastic<br /> use (like using washable liners in garbage cans<br /> and replacing disposable containers in the locker<br /> room with refillable ones), then evaluating water<br /> and energy consumption. For example, when G20<br /> Day Spa (Boston) rebuilt its facilities in 2010,<br /> it installed LED and sensor-activated lighting,<br /> low-flow showers and toilet heads, and geothermal<br /> heating and cooling systems that run on ground<br /> water from two wells dug behind the building.<br /> Washers were equipped with regulated detergent<br /> dispensers, and a bicycle rack was installed to<br /> encourage employees to pedal to work. Meanwhile,<br /> the Hotel Terra (Jackson Hole, WY) incorporated<br /> wind power, low-VOC carpet and paint, reclaimed<br /> bamboo, crushed glass, and a water conservation<br /> system into the construction of its Chill Spa. “In<br /> most cases, even a slight change in the spa culture<br /> can make a big difference in saving money and<br /> resources,” says Arjona. After a period of time,<br /> revisit your original goals, and create new ones<br /> based on trends, achievements, or personal goals.<br /> Communicating the Message<br /> Being able to effectively and consistently communicate<br /> your sustainability strategies will allow<br /> your employees and clients to become proactively continued from page 56<br /> [ classroom ]<br /> involved in the eco-ethos of your spa. “From the<br /> marketing side, green industries continue to take<br /> a bigger piece of the exposure in the media, and<br /> communicating green practices to the consumer<br /> and the community can increase credibility and<br /> loyalty,” says Arjona. GSN suggests clarifying<br /> what issues are important to you, what steps you<br /> plan to carry it out, and what employees can do to<br /> be engaged in the process—an important point as<br /> worker attitudes and behaviors are very much the<br /> reflection of your spa philosophy. Lynne McNees,<br /> president of the International Spa Association<br /> (ISPA), encourages spas to collaborate and learn<br /> from their peers. “ISPA is a community for sharing<br /> ideas and is a great resource for a spa looking for<br /> more information on this topic.” In order to communicate<br /> the message further, Barbara Stirewalt,<br /> spa director at The Spa at Mohonk Mountain<br /> House (New Paltz, NY), suggests providing a card<br /> upon check-in that outlines your green efforts, as<br /> well as spelling out on your website exactly how<br /> your spa is earth conscious.<br /> Choosing Spa Products<br /> Selecting natural, organic, and ethically sourced<br /> ingredients in a saturated market requires research<br /> and vetting. “There are minimally processed<br /> products on the market that contain ingredients<br /> from plants and nature,” says Szilvia Hickman, of<br /> Szép Élet, distributor of Ilike Organic Skin Care<br /> products. “However, there are companies out there<br /> being less than honest.”<br /> Currently, many countries have no official<br /> regulations or standards for organic and natural<br /> skincare products, which means that consumers<br /> (and spa owners) could easily fall prey to unclear<br /> labeling and dubious claims. According to the<br /> GSN, in fact, almost 90 percent of the 10,500<br /> ingredients used in personal care products have<br /> not been evaluated for safety. Look for red flags<br /> on the label. Besides harmful ingredients such as<br /> phthalates, parabens, and cocomide DEA, which<br /> are commonly used in cosmetics, nail polishes,<br /> and fragrances; formaldahyde, hydroquinone, and<br /> sulfates also pose health threats, including skin<br /> and eye irritation, liver cancer, and DNA damage.<br /> When surveying companies for the purchase of<br /> spa and skincare products, such as deodorant, face<br /> creams, cosmetics, and soap, the GSN recommends<br /> asking the right questions: How long has your<br /> company been committed to sustainable, organic,<br /> and natural practices? Do you know where all of<br /> your certified organic and natural products are<br /> grown? Are your sources traceable? What thirdparty<br /> certified organic and natural body do you<br /> use to certify your products?<br /> Focused on protecting both their clients and<br /> the environment, the folks at NVE Institute of<br /> Phyto-Aroma Cosmetology (Edmonton, Canada)<br /> adopted a green philosophy from the beginning.<br /> “We have three very strict guidelines,” says Gary<br /> Murk, director of operations. “Everything we do<br /> must be safe for our clients, ourselves, and our<br /> precious environment.” As a result, the spa takes<br /> an eco-approach to its treatments, using only the<br /> finest organic essential oils, clays, herbs, salts, and<br /> vegan carrier oils. It’s not only the products used<br /> on clients that must pass muster but also those<br /> relied upon for cleaning. “In fact, we make our<br /> own cleaning products using pure tea tree oil and<br /> a blend of other essential oils for cleansing and<br /> disinfecting,” says Murk. Owner Nathalie Van<br /> Eeckhoudt, a certified dermo-hygienist and phytoaroma<br /> cosmetologist, has spent more than 30 years<br /> in the industry and opened the two-treatmentroom<br /> spa two years ago with the goal of offering<br /> clients a more natural alternative. Says Murk, “We<br /> have seen so much beauty around the world, and it<br /> is partly our love of nature, but the most important<br /> part is safety for our clients that we have chosen to<br /> be green.”—Lisa Cheng

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