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The Green Spa - Part 2

September 28, 2012 | 6:43 AM
The Green Spa - Part 1
The Green Spa - Part 2
The Green Spa - Part 3

Green Awakening

Because not every spa has a cadre of MBA students on the case, Canavino recommends starting modestly. She suggests creating a list that includes ideas from the staff to keep them invested in the effort, then implementing the items on a monthly basis, one or two at a time. Don't overwhelm the staff, she advises; each new habit will take time to stick. Spas seem to instinctively follow that advice. Says Redigan, "We're not 100-percent green, but we're taking steps little by little to get there." Ginn Resorts is proceeding in a similarly gradual pattern. "We're not trying to convert all at once," says Ulmer. Whereas Sigman and Redigan had the advantage of building from the ground up, the Ginn Spa launched in a two-story space that had been a home.

"Whenever we're remodeling a section anyway, we feel we might as well do it as eco-friendly as we can," Ulmer explains.

That's how Carolyn Lee feels as well. "When I purchase something new, I choose the greenest alternative I can get," says the owner of Absolute Nirvana in Santa Fe, New Mexico. One of Lee's strategies is to scrutinize items already in the budget.

"If you're paying for trash to be picked up, you could be paying for recycling to be picked up, too," she says. "You have to buy light bulbs anyway, so why not buy efficient ones?"

For many owners, the obvious place to start is at the backbar and on the retail shelves, where a string of chemicals on the label appears ominous when viewed with a green eye. While it's the rare salon/spa that will eliminate hair color services or severely alter a signature treatment—hair and nail colors account for the 15 percent that keeps Salon Echo from being fully green—more and more spas are using and retailing at least some organic and botanically formulated products.

sticky question:
Does It Net Green?
Environmentalism is controversial partly because the science behind it is so complicated. For example, experts are still entrenched in the ethanol debate, with no decision yet on whether turning corn into fuel is worth the significant amount of energy needed to do so.
At the spa, the net green ratio comes into play with the use of products that lack preservatives. With shorter shelf life, these products must be sold in smaller packages. While many non-organic products, too, are intended to be sold and used up within three or four months, and observers anticipate that natural
preservatives will surface to solve the problem, for the time being it's a bit of a trade-off.
"People will have to make choices," says Michael Stusser, owner of Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Freestone, California. "They'll have to decide whether to risk exposure to preservatives or take the responsibility for extra packaging."
Bob Ulmer, director of spa, fitness and recreation at Ginn Resorts, agrees. "As we go forward, we have to weigh the decisions," he remarks. "It may just be a gut call."
Again, cost is a factor. Whether it's efficient light bulbs, non-toxic cleaning products, an organic product line or even paper with recycled content, the price tends to be higher than the mainstream alternative. It's no surprise that Stusser often hears cost cited as a primary fear factor to going green. Yet some owners do not let the price tag deter them from what they feel is a higher commitment. Says Lee, "The cost of not doing all of this is greater in terms of our planet. I've never run my business by having the cheapest things. I do what's best for my guests, and it's in my guests' best interests to make the greenest choices I can afford."

Adds Sigman, "It is my choice to spend a little more and leave the smallest footprint that I can. I also have selfish reasons, since as the technician I'm the one who uses the highest concentrations of the products."

Contending that "any waste is lost profit," Collins argues that it's not necessarily more expensive to be green, because the higher short-term cost will result in long-term gain. Energy-saving light bulbs cost more but last much longer. A composter in the garden can eventually pay for itself through waste disposal and fertilizer production.

"A classic example is solar panels," Collins says. "They have not been more widely adopted in homes because it takes several years to get your money back—but the economics of solar energy is getting better all the time."

Green in Stages

Stage 2: Getting Serious

reduce, reuse, recycle use natural products
save energy

€¢ Replace ordinary toilets with low-flow toilets.
€¢ Attach flow restrictors to faucets and showers.
€¢ Give away the Vichy shower.
€¢ Sponge off guests instead of using a water spray.
€¢ Choose local plants, which need less water to thrive in their indigenous surroundings.

€¢ Print spa menus and stationery with soy ink.
€¢ Serve foods from farms that do not use chemical
fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or practices that create erosion and runoff.
€¢ Use green alternatives for pest prevention and fertilizer.
€¢ When redecorating, absorb the extra cost for eco-smart wall paint and also use natural raw materials like clay, plant oils, rubber tree latex and recycled driftwood.
€¢ Initiate an energy audit.
€¢ Install state-of-the-art heating and air-conditioning
systems that recycle air.
€¢ Replace all-night outdoor lighting with solar-powered and motion-detector lights.
€¢ Offer staffers incentives for commuting to work by carpooling, using public transportation, riding a bike or walking.
€¢ Use HEPA vacuum systems that reduce building
contaminants and minimize environmental impact.
€¢ Install a heat exchanger to efficiently take in fresh air from outside.
€¢ Replace ordinary pedicure chairs with new, water-
saving models.
€¢ When it's time to trade in your car, purchase a hybrid model.
The Green Spa - Part 1
The Green Spa - Part 2
The Green Spa - Part 3

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