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

Read the full article at http://www.americanspadigital.com/article/Classroom%3A+Naturally+Green/1352935/151379/article.html.

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