An interview with Kent Richards – Six Senses pledge no plastic by 2022

Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas have been in-operation for over 23 years with a very clear vision to be a luxury resort where guests can reconnect with themselves, others and the world around them. CEO, Neil Jacobs, says it best “Of course hospitality is never just about a place to stay. We want our places and spaces to help you reconnect and explore what it means to be mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally happy.” For this to become “real” and not be just words, Six Senses have actively crafted experiences around guest needs to make this process possible. Each property is designed and constructed to enhance the landscape and assist the local community; no “cookie cutter” design approach but rather a unique combination of luxury and sustainability with a high level of respect to the environment.  As a leading international wellness hospitality company, they understand the importance of contributing to the environment and can summarise this by sharing their values which are the “how” to deliver their vision.

  1. Responsible and caring
  2. Crafted experiences
  3. Locally sensitive yet globally sensible
  4. Pioneering wellness
  5. Emotional hospitality
  6. Fun and quirky 

What was the initial framework of sustainability for Six Senses?

Sustainability has been in our DNA from the start. We realized there was no benchmark in the industry so Six Senses used their values as a framework with the overall belief being how we want to make a positive difference in all the locations we operate. Areas surrounding a Six Senses should celebrate the impact made from us being in their community. This included monitoring resources such as water, electricity and waste as well as working with local community projects.

What improvements have been made to this framework over the last five years?

Today, Six Senses have a holistic approach to sustainability well beyond the initial key points. Our VP of Sustainability, Jeff Smith, and his teams have lead us to include local food production, extend our vegetable and herb gardens, all suppliers packaging, working with our procurement teams to have us support only ethical brands and products, plastic free pledge, upcycling and of course community projects. All Six Senses resorts now have an “Earth Lab” guest area where they can see all the efforts done and be involved in the process too

You have made a pledge to eliminate all plastic from your resorts by 2022. Is your pledge to be plastic free by 2022 a new initiative?

We have always been aware of the need to reduce plastic usage to a minimum but right back in 2017 we started taking active measures to be plastic free. The demand of plastic is well understood so we recognized the need to work with communities and suppliers to make its elimination possible. Starting with single-use and disposable plastic as top priority, we worked to carefully reduce exposure to plastics for guests and communities, being mindful of both the wellness impacts and the wildlife impacts from this fossil-fuel based material.  

Why is it important to eliminate plastics rather than recycle?

Plastic is just wrong and there are many other options – they just need to be researched and supported. Recycled plastic may continue to be useful and stay out of landfills and our oceans but we need to reduce the amount of plastic in the environment completely. Pastic fibres continue to enter our tap water and oceans polluting us all so we are definitely focused on eliminating plastics rather than recycle. 

What swaps have you made and what materials should spas be looking to use to replace plastic?

Glass bottles, bamboo straws, linen bags, paper and basket deliveries, compostable air-delivery food packaging

Brown paper envelopes for disposable underwear . Aluminium containers

Herb gardens need not be large and sophisticated but are perfect to replace those items usually purchased

What advice would you give to other spas starting on a plastic elimination strategy?

Go for it – don’t overthink it. Wellness and sustainability go together. How can we promote wellness of ourselves but not our earth ?

  1. Start with an audit of all plastic items in  your spa, list them and identify the biggest culprits.
  2. Track the spas usage of electricity, water, separate and weigh the waste and laundry.
  3. Identify products you can produce on-site to eliminate the supply chain, wastage  and the packaging that goes with it.
  4. Build relationships with local community leaders to see how your business can work with them to become more sustainable.
  5. Once you start collecting data,  it really becomes exciting to see how the spa can truly be sustainable. Celebrate all your successes.