What makes a spa green? What are they? And why is there a rapidly growing movement around the world towards ‘green spas’?
Consumers across the world, and in particular those with a special interest in the hospitality and wellness industries, are increasingly asking important questions about the products and trading practices that apply to the businesses that they frequent:
- Are their products continuously re-usable, or biodegradable so that, eventually, they replenish the earth?
- Are there any social or community benefits in the production of their products?
- Are their products really good for us as consumers and the environment?
- Do they conduct ethical trade?
- Do their businesses consume resources in a sustainable way?
As wellness generators, spas – by their very nature and existence – promote health and well-being of their guests. A logical extension of spa activity is also to promote the health and wellness of not only the community in which the spa operates, but that of the wider environment and the planet as a whole. This is what spas in South Africa are increasingly aiming to achieve.
A ‘green spa’ not only promotes all-round well-being for guests, but also operates a sustainable business model, relying on and promoting a harmonious relationship with its surrounding landscape and communities. The underlying philosophy is that personal wellness connects with and is interdependent on earth and community wellness.
Green spas share many of the attributes listed below and should have ‘Green Policies’ that incorporate these principles available for guests to study.
- are committed to reduce harmful practices and exposure to harmful substances and are open to learning, adopting and implementing new environmentally friendly strategies and techniques.
- strive to conserve natural resources and operate in environments that promote health and well-being. For example, a green spa building will create a healthier and consequently more productive environment to work and provide therapy in. The subsequent benefits are transferred to the experience of the spa guest, adding wellness value to the therapies themselves.
- adopt energy conservation practices and incorporate fixtures and fittings that comply with such practices. The conservation of energy translates into a reduction in carbon emissions and an overall smaller carbon footprint for the spa.
- are committed to using materials which can be recycled, follow recycling practices and actively promote waste reduction.
- incorporate natural or organic skin care products in their therapies and actively encourage their guests to apply this thinking in their personal health regimes at home.
- promote the well-being of their communities by participating in community projects and contracting with their local communities for the delivery of products and services wherever possible.
- share their concern for the planet’s well-being with guests and set ongoing examples of green living and green thinking.
Today, green spas are becoming the destinations of choice for discerning clientele. Spa owners and managers already appreciate that prospective spa guests will begin to weigh a spa’s environmental and community upliftment policies and will reward those spas who have shown to have incorporated authentic, natural and indigenous treatments, hired local staff and contributed to the local communities.
In recognition of the need to identify spas with green policies in place, the South African Spa Association (SASA)has published a Spa Index with special indicators for such spas. The Spa Index can be obtained from SASA at www.saspaassociation.co.za.
Source: Odyssey magazine Issue 1 2011 (Charne le Roux)
Spas also potentially use large amounts of water (for laundry and various treatments) so enquire about what water conservation systems they have in place too.
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