The concept of sustainability has recently gained significant momentum and is beneficial for a variety of reasons—it is good for the planet, great for a company's public image, and can even save you money. Your spa may embrace the connection between nature and wellness, but are you carrying this concept into your day-to-day business operations? You don't need to break your budget, as there are many simple but significant ways to green your spa. Here are some options that are easy to implement:
1. Establish a Greening Task Force
Sustainability is a diverse topic, and your staff knows best what your needs and limitations are. Work collectively to create a list of priorities. The more input that is considered, the more dedicated your staff will be to the process. Engage all levels and departments, ranging from executive to janitorial.
2. Make Your Spa Carbon-Neutral by Purchasing Renewable Energy
You can minimize your ecological "footprint" by purchasing "green tags" or renewable energy credits (RECs), which support generating renewable energy generation through existing green energy sources, such as solar or wind power, rather than coal plants, which contribute to greenhouse gases. You can purchase RECs from companies such as Native Energy, 3 Phases Energy, or Carbon Fund. Each has an online calculator to help you determine the amount of carbon dioxide you produce. The costs are minimal and as easy as a phone call. You can offset everything from your spa electricity use to your personal air and car travel.
3. Clean Green
Green cleaning products have evolved to a point where their cleaning strength is equal to or better than conventional cleaners but will not cause damage to the environment or your employees' health. Companies such as Seventh Generation, Mountain Green, and Method provide a variety of detergents ranging from laundry dishwashing soap to floor and carpet cleaners. More green cleaning resources can be found online at greenhome.com. Another idea is to provide organic and biodegradable soap and skincare in your washrooms, suites, and retail area.
4. Just Say No to Plastic
Plastic is made from oil and does not decompose. It is easier than you might think to reduce your spa's plastic use. Bulk suppliers such as Eco Products have alternatives to conventional plastic products, such as PLA, which is a corn-based biodegradable plastic for trash bags, cups, and utensils. You can also consider using flatware and dishes that can be washed and reused.
5. Save the Forests
Did you know that 40 percent of all trees cut down in the U.S. are used to make paper? There is a simple solution for this problem—switching out your conventional paper with recycled paper saves trees. Marcal and Seventh Generation make recycled tissues, paper towels, toilet paper, and more. Office Depot and Corporate Express provide recycled paper options for the office. Mohawk, New Leaf, and Living Tree are excellent resources for recycled or hemp paper stock for magazines and catalogs.
6. Recycle and Compost
Learn about your community recycling programs to divert as much of your waste as possible from ending up in a landfill. Landfills are a major contributor to methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Items like office paper, glass, magazines, newspapers, cardboard, paperboard, and plastics can be recycled. Provide recycling receptacles in treatment rooms, locker rooms and relaxation areas. You can make these yourself or look to companies like Ecopod to provide sleek recycling receptacles. Separate your food waste from regular trash to be composted. Composting creates great soil for your property gardens, or it can be donated to local farms and gardens. See if there is a compost pickup service in your area.
7. Perform Community Service and Give Charitably
Give back to your community by providing services to those in need. Donate used products such as linens and towels, sponsor local charities, or encourage your staff to work for local charities by giving them paid leave time for volunteer activities. These gestures not only provide services to those in need, but also foster a healthier corporate culture and create goodwill in your community.
8. Consider Energy and Natural Resource Conservation
Replace your regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent lighting (CFL), which lasts longer and uses 50 to 80 percent less energy than conventional lights. Save electricity by turning off your computers at night. Look for Energy Star-certified appliances like washers and dryers, dishwashers, and televisions. Low-flow toilets, showerheads, and aerated faucets are now available, which save significant amounts of water without a change in water pressure. All of this translates to cutting utility bills while conserving energy and our natural resources.
9. Green PR Initiatives
Now that you have done some things to green your spa, tell people about it. Greening is great for your spa's image—consider last Earth Day when nearly every magazine on the newsstands was
devoted to the issue. Provide detailed information on your company website for interested clients. There are many PR and marketing firms that specialize in sustainable marketing. A listing of the top 25 agencies can be found on lohas.com.—Ted Ning
Get in touch with these earth-friendly companies as you look to green your spa.
3 Phases Energy
Ted Ning is the executive editor of the LOHAS Journal and director of the LOHAS conference that focuses on the Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) market. For more information, visit www.lohas.com.