It’s hard to miss the conscious shift away from consumerism that is taking place as more people begin to prioritize minimizing their impact on the planet. From state-wide plastic bag bans to the eventual elimination of drinking straws at Starbucks, companies and individuals are taking action to preserve the environment. Ojai Valley Inn, for example, eliminated single-use plastic items throughout Spa Ojai and replaced traditional spa amenities with eco-friendly, reusable versions. The initiative was introduced after a massage therapist on spa director Kate Morrison’s team shared an online video from the Plastic Pollution Coalition titled “Open Your Eyes,” about the impact single-use plastic is having on the planet.
“The video prompted us to take an honest look around our spa, assessing our daily plastic consumption,” says Morrison. “We discovered that in 2016, we issued 34,120 bottles of water to our guests. We used 24,000 plastic snack cups and 107,120 water cups. Other single-use items included disposable hair combs, plastic-wrapped towelettes, wrapped razors, plastic bathing suit bags, and plastic mouthwash cups; each item literally used once and thrown away. Shocked by the excessive waste being produced, we were inspired to make a plan for change.” The spa now offers Klean Kanteen stainless steel water and snack cups, and high-quality unwrapped razors and shower caps are available for guests to take home and reuse. Plastic-wrapped towelettes have been replaced with lavender-infused chilled washcloths, and high-quality brushes and combs, which are properly sanitized for reuse, have replaced disposable hair tools. The spa isn’t alone in taking this eco-friendly stance. Titanic Spa (Huddersfield, UK) has also banned the single-use plastic bottles, straws, and cups, replacing them with paper recyclable alternatives. Numerous other hotel brands, such as Oetker Collection, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, and more have also committed to eliminating single-use plastic.
“Every industry is realizing the ecological impact that plastic dispensables and micro-particles is having on not only our health but also on future business,” says Bonnie Baker, founder and managing partner of Satteva Spa and Wellness Concepts. According to her, the hospitality industry, in particular, is beginning to recognize the impact such consumption has on wildlife, marine ecology, and the pristine environments that have long attracted visitors. “What’s changed is that there is more of a conversation and awareness that consumers want to see in what you’re doing to mitigate the harmful impact to the planet,” says Joanna Roche, executive director of the Green Spa Network.
As the Environmental Protection Agency continues to deregulate numerous rules and policies that serve to safeguard the environment, many are stepping up to do what they can to stem the tide of environmental threats. Reforestation in local communities and as part of a global movement is just one initiative gaining ground in the spa and wellness industry. “We know that trees are the best technology we have right now to right the course of climate impact in the next 10 years,” she says. “Several companies as well as the Green Spa Network have channels to directly contribute to reforestation.”
According to Roche, the future of green is starting to take root with more thought being given to how water, electricity, and building materials are used. “As for what’s next for Spa Ojai, I think we need to focus on water conservation,” says Morrison. “We’ve recently converted all pedicure protocols to ‘waterless’ in an effort to reduce our water and chemical usage, but that’s just a start. With a little ingenuity, I’m confident more ideas will come.”