How One Green Spa Owner Made Her Spa Zero Waste

Echo Natural Beauty in Portland, OR is a zero waste green spa. //Credit: Goami/iStock/Getty Images (Goami/iStock/Getty Images)

According to a recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American sends 4.4 pounds of trash to landfills each day. A lot of trash doesn't even make it to the landfill. Instead, it clutters the sides of roads and swirls in the ocean. Plastic is especially dangerous to the ocean, marine life, and our health. To combat this, many Americans have started going zero waste, including people within the wellness industry. Going zero waste is a simple yet profound movement with the principal of sending nothing to the landfill. Reduce what you use, reuse what you can, recycle, and compost. It sounds simple but going zero waste requires a conscious, sustained effort and attention to detail.

American Spa contributor Shar Veda tries organic makeup
at Echo Natural Beauty.

Jami Sherman, owner of Echo Natural Beauty green spa in Portland, OR, has seen first hand the amount of waste the spa and wellness industry produces. A massage therapist and esthetician for over 15 years, Sherman wanted to reduce her spa's carbon footprint. “This industry generates a huge amount of waste,” Sherman says. “There is a lot of plastic packaging that can be avoided entirely with a little conscious effort. When I opened Echo in 2015,the first thing I did was bring in the best organic makeup and skincare lines, like Alima PureBattingtonDr. AlkalitisIliaJosh RosebrookLily LoloMay Lindstrom, and RMS. A few months after opening, I knew I could do more.” 

After the successful integration of organic makeup and skincare into her spa, Sherman decided to make Echo Natural Beauty as zero waste as possible. Here are 10 steps Sherman shared with us that she used to go zero waste that you can follow, too:

  1. Remind guests to compost. Echo encourages customers to dump their tea bags, brown paper, wood tester sticks, and any organic waste into a stainless steel compost bin. 
  2. Serve water and tea in 8 oz ball glass jars instead of paper cups. 
  3. Gift employees reusable travel mugs like e-coffee cups, made out of natural, sustainable bamboo. 
  4. Offer refillable, private label, hand and body wash and aromatic mist. At Echo, customers can purchase reusable product for $12 and bring the bottles to refill for $8.
  5. Use eco-friendly LED lights in retail areas.
  6. Only offer sustainable skincare and makeup lines. 
  7. Offer sustainable, organic facials in the treatment room. 
  8. Offer sugaring instead of waxing. Sugaring only requires three ingredients: lemon, sugar, water. Sherman uses about one ball of sugar per leg. 
  9. Recycle whenever possible.
  10. Ask vendors to reduce packaging and to only use materials that can be recycled.

“We’ve all got to stop pointing fingers and waiting for other businesses to do something. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and do the work ourselves,” Sherman says. “Thankfully, our clients response has been overwhelmingly supportive during the entire process.”   


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