A spa’s staff might engage in environmentally healthy practices—but there is always room to do more. This is the message behind a new tool launched by a national organization dedicated to making spas more environmentally responsible.
Doing more means adding components, or steps, to what is already being done. For example, a spa director might decide as a first step to use only massage lubricants free of synthetic products. Another step might include limiting lubricant purchases to those that come in recycled packaging. Step three could mean the spa does business only with lubricant vendors who engage in fair-trade practices.
Determining the steps related to lubricants and other products—as well as to sanitation, water, lighting, energy usage, linens, textiles, food and all other spa-related factors that impact the environment is where the Green Spa Network Sustainability Awareness Tool comes in.
The tool consists of educational materials, coaching, self-scoring charts and a 75-minute-long, online workshop. The tool resulted from meetings at the Green Spa Congress held in fall 2008, the first event of its kind developed for the spa industry. As of Feb. 1, The Green Spa Network Program Chair Rhana Pytell had completed the tool with four spas and planned to have 30 more completed by the end of June.
She described the online workshop as “a 360-degree view of sustainability” that involves both spa management and staff envisioning processes and idea exchanges. “People are at different levels of awareness of what is actually taking place” in the spa, she explained. “The idea exchange is extremely powerful in this kind of approach—it’s not about someone in an isolated position saying, ‘We’re going to do this, this and this.'”
Staff from Spa Velia, a day spa in San Diego, California, completed the assessment program in late January. “The online workshop was easy to understand and ignited some honest, open communication among our leadership team,” said spa Principal Dana Stallings. “The self-scoring system is such a valuable part of the assessment process, as it allowed us to candidly evaluate our baseline score in a comfortable setting, so that we can continue to measure our progress in every area.”
The network also offers a Green Spa Toolkit on its website (http://greenspanetwork.org), which offers information on topics including greening a spa’s laundry, towels, linens and lighting, and natural skin care.

—Karen Menehan