If you have a conscience about the future of our planet, you will realise that anywhere with tonnes of heated and chlorinated water is not terribly sustainable. So how can we spa with a green conscience? The Spa Spy does some research….
Spa and sustainability currently go together like a fish and a bicycle. Think about all that water that needs to be heated and filtered, smell the chlorine, never mind the acres of white robes and towels that need to be thoroughly washed every day, the plastic wrapped slippers, the plastic cups, the waste…
Yet the future of the planet – and the consciences of intelligent, informed spa goers – is serious enough for the spa industry to take note. Sustainability keeps coming up at global Wellness conferences as a major ‘trend’, although a better word would perhaps be ‘urgency’. Even the staunchest capitalist can no longer turn a blind eye (although some can’t seem to see clearly through their own comb-overs). The more astute industry figures have cottoned onto the fact that sustainability often makes long-term financial sense, as well as being a selling point to a certain calibre of guest. Eco-luxe is the buzzword for any spa-ista worth her low sodium salt.
While new spas and resorts can afford to invest in sustainable resources, older spas may take longer making the transition. So, what can we do in the meantime to make our spa experience more eco?
1- Say no to plastic. Although some spas have paper cups, most have plastic cups, and as we now know eight million tonnes of plastic waste goes into the oceans every year. Take your own reusable water bottle (downside: it must be made of plastic, glass isn’t allowed in wet areas). This means saying no to Prosecco in the hot tub, sadly, but if you are the type to spa green, you’re probably more of a kale-and-matcha-smoothie kind of gal anyway. Spas can also get through a lot of plastic swimsuit bags. Wander Wet Bags have stylish, reusable bags in various colours and sizes. Or just take your bag for life.
2 - Make sure you only use one towel and robe – and take your own flip-flops. Extra laundry equals wasteful water, energy and detergent bottles as well as extra carbon emissions. Bear in mind towels and robes in spas are white, so demand a hotter wash, so don’t keep grabbing clean towels but try and make yours last the day. Slippers handed out by the spa usually come in plastic bags (never mind the fact that soggy slippers in spas are a very real first world problem, people!), so save the planet and your toes and take your own flip-flops.
3 - Check the menu… Does your spa menu use words like ‘locally sourced’. This is one way of reducing the carbon footprint, supporting local businesses, as well as being able to enjoy a fresh, unadulterated ingredient. Some hotels are very proud of the kitchen and herb gardens, the produce grown may even make its way onto your plate or into the treatment room.
4 - Check your brand. When booking a spa, check the brands they use in their treatments, then do your research. Luckily, so many of our favourite spa brands care about environmental impact as well as the purity of their ingredients, but some are rather more old-fashioned. It’s not just microbeads that are the baddies; we need to avoid sunscreen chemicals, parabens, propylene, P-phenylenediamine, BHA, BHTs, DBT, DEA and Dioxane. Be aware that these get washed down our plugholes and enter the ecosystem.
5 - Talk to the spa. Some spa bill themselves as Eco-Spas. If they are doing something conserve energy or reduce consumption, they will shout about it somewhere on their website. With those not making an obvious effort, you don’t need to wave placards. Open a positive discussion on sustainability - ask them if they have any plans to improve sustainability and reduce the use of plastic in their spas.