According to the Census Bureau there are 304,995,583 people living in the United States. Each individual puts a strain on the planet’s resources, creating a “carbon footprint.” The cumulative effect of everything one does, buys, eats, et cetera, will last beyond their lifespan and affect future generations.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency predicts that increased greenhouse gases in our atmosphere will drive future climate changes, which will have a direct effect on every aspect of life as we know it. This will create warmer average temperatures, increases in sea levels, and erratic and unstable weather patterns, which will in turn produce severe or frequent storms, drought, and flooding (www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/futurecc.html).
The most severe effects of these changes can be lessened if each person makes more conscious and progressive choices — choices such as seeking alternative energy sources, seeking alternative transportation, and a drastic reduction of unnecessary purchases, which are the foundation of western consumerism and consumption-based lifestyles. Adopt a new awareness for all the products we purchase.
In our home and personal lives many of us try to implement green habits. Energy conservation, recycled products, recycling materials from home are examples. But do we as practitioners transfer our green habits from home to our work? It is very important that now, maybe more than ever, we carry our good green intentions and habits from home to our office or workplace.
The International Spa Association estimated that the United States has 14,615 spas and growing. The sheer number of current business operations has an enormous carbon footprint. It is up to us to tread as lightly as possible. A 2007 survey from the American Massage Therapy Association indicates that a quarter of American adults have had massage at least once in 12 months. About 1 in 5 reports talking to their doctor about massage therapy and more than half of those people said their doctor recommended or encouraged them to have massage. This means that millions and millions of people are coming through our doors. We can be progressive and positive agents of change. We have the opportunity to dramatically affect the thinking and habits of the people we meet.
As massage therapists we have a role as educators for our clients. They often ask us questions about everything from anatomy and the function of the body to disease and wellness, and of course the safest and most effective products to purchase. If we can help them to a body of wellness, we can also help them understand their role in creating a total planetary wellness, sustainable and balanced.
With this much consistent one-on-one exposure to so many people, I can’t think of a better venue than one’s business to promote more environmentally friendly habits and educate people not just by what we say but by what we do, leading by example. Here are some simple and great ideas to get started in a more green direction:
• Buy plastic cups for drinking water
• Leave the lights on
• Overload the washer or wash linens in hot water
• Buy virgin paper goods
• Leave unused equipment plugged in. Even when the power is off, plugged in equipment has “standby” consumption, which runs at all times and has been said to be equivalent to a 75-watt bulb
• Waste paper on invitations and newsletters
• Collect all garbage in one bin
• Use small glass tumblers or biodegradable & compost able cups
• Shut or dim lights in all unused rooms. Allow natural sunlight to bathe your spa or wellness center rather than harsh fluorescents
• Wash sheets in cold water and clean the lint filter in the dryer. This helps to decrease energy use
• Buy 100% recycled toilet and facial tissue
• Unplug unused equipment
• Collect all of your client’s e-mails and send your announcements and newsletters via the Internet or as PDF files
• Have several bins with marked signs for plastics, bottles and paper
This is by no means an exhaustive list; there are so many more ideas available online and in publications.
Improving your company’s environmental stance is good for you, your business, and the world. Implementing these simple tips can decrease your company’s waste, decrease your energy bills, and decrease the strain on our planet. Finding the right products and following your green guidelines is no walk in the park. Hey, it’s not always easy being green, but your commitment to a green ideal, responsible and sustainable personal and business practices, will help assure that the benefits awarded to such endeavors will be felt by those of generations to come.
Barbara Sanchez-Reichert is the CEO of Alterra Wellness, Inc., an alternative thinking wellness center specializing in a variety of body therapies and organic and cruelty-free products, and dedicated to optimizing mobility and stress free living. Barbara can be reached at 201-567-4343 or through www.alterrawellness.com.