The Spa Industry: A New Voice for Environmental Change
Last year, the FOX-TV characters The Simpsons visited a spa. Marge
Simpson received a great "turtle" massage where the therapist used
a live turtle in a technique similar to hot stone massage. When
the treatment was over, the turtle was thrown into a bin labeled
"used turtles." I had to ask myself what the writers of The Simpsons
were saying about our industry. Are we known for wasting resources?
I decided it was time to clean up our act, focus on resource conservation
and market environmentally friendly products and services. Spas
are, above all, promoters of health, and our personal health depends
on the health of the earth.
The Healing the Waters Project
Several industry leaders started a "conversation" about the greening
of the spa industry following the 2002 ISPA conference, where Golden
Door founder Deborah Szekely issued a wake-up call to the industry.
The result was a call for action known as the "Healing the Waters"
project, in which members view spa operators as unique agents of
change in the environmental movement. Consider the words of "Healing
the Waters" member Larry Dean:
"As the guardians of the healing waters, we are in a natural
leader-ship position to rise to the challenge. First, it is
at the heart of our livelihood and serves our interest for
the future of our industry. Secondly, we have been given stewardship
of the sacred sites throughout the world where these waters
flow. This is a sacred trust we have inherited. Finally, we
are organized and have a unique access to some of the most
important people in the world, who come to us for our services.
The spa industry has the opportunity to make a commitment
to organize ourselves in such a way that we are totally sustainable
and environmentally conscious of every aspect of our operations
and to make the necessary upgrades to our systems whenever
possible. We can then use our position to communicate what
we stand for and explain why we are moving in this direction.
By calling attention to the problem and demonstrating solutions,
we will inspire others to follow our example and take actions
that heal the waters of the world."
Eva Jensch of Spa Concepts International has been a proponent of
the sustainable spa movement for more than two decades. "True, deep
down 'in your bones' relaxation and optimal health can be brought
about through the use of the natural minerals, plants, light, water
and air," she said. "By nurturing these elements in your surroundings,
you can help the elements nurture the body, mind and soul. We are
constantly trying to detoxify our systems; maybe we should start
with what is causing the toxic buildup in the first place." Jensch
offers the following tips to improve the environmental consciousness
of your spas:
- Change your purchasing habits. Purchase unbleached, 100 percent
recycled paper products. Reduce packaging and the amount of plastic
you use. Avoid using disposable razors, cotton swabs with plastic
sticks, plastic retail bags and Styrofoam cups. Buy in bulk whenever
possible, and look for products in reusable and recyclable containers.
- Create a recycling program in your spa. Every ton of paper we
recycle saves 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, and 4,100 kilowatts
of electricity. Minimize packaging and purchase items in recyclable
- Use nontoxic cleaners made with natural coconut oils or citrus
rind, and avoid products with petrochemicals, phosphates and labels
with the words "caution," "danger," and "harmful if swallowed."
- Install low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators and toilet dams.
Install water purifiers rather than purchase bottled water.
- Educate your guests on environmentally sound principles and
the actions you have taken to adhere to them.
There is a whole web of environmental interaction to create a healthy