It is now nearly three months since we launched our very first #SpaWasteNotChallenge, open to all spas around the world. Focused on encouraging spas and wellness resorts to find new, innovative ways to minimise what they send to landfill, the challenge is inspired by the core principle of circular economy, which is that nothing should go straight to waste. So far, 56 spas have signed up to take part, in all corners of the world.
Adopting a circular economy approach and finding creative solutions for waste streams can help spas in many ways. In addition to the obvious benefits – saving money on not sending items to landfill and improving a business’s environmental footprint – spas can, for example, help local businesses and strengthen community bonds and integration.
This in mind, one the aims of #SpaWasteNotChallenge is to help spas forge partnerships with local entities and to embrace, support and strengthen their surrounding communities. Engaging with local projects, developing new resourceful initiatives and promoting sustainable choices will not only make business sense – it will help spas become embedded in their surroundings and better connect with the people living in them.
Six Senses – a case study
One of the operators to have embraced the #SpaWasteNotChallenge in this way has been Six Senses. Sustainability is already one of the operator’s key pillars of business, so creating new sustainable practices isn’t a new experience for the global brand.
Six Senses has not used plastic straws since 2016 and has eliminated the need to use millions of plastic bottles every year, thanks to producing and bottling its own drinking water (in glass bottles) on site. It now has plans to eliminate the use of plastic entirely with an ambitious goal to be plastic free by 2022.
“Being sustainable is not something that we do, it is who we are,” says Kent Richards, Corporate Operations Director at Six Senses. “It has been in our DNA from the start.”
Since May, a total of 12 Six Senses spas and resorts have taken part in the #SpaWasteNotChallenge, with each coming up with their own, creative ideas around cutting waste.
One of these is Six Senses Laamu resort in the Maldives. The spa team used their local knowledge and understanding of the environment to come up with an idea for an environmentally friendly alternative to a widely-used piece of cleaning “equipment” – namely, the humble broom. The team decided to utilise a plentiful resource – fallen coconut palm leaves and coir rope from coconut husks. With more than 400 coconut trees on the island, there will never be a shortage of the natural materials needed for the product.
To watch the Laamu spa team in action, click HERE. https://www.instagram.com/p/CRMUWsOHeH7/
Meanwhile, the Six Senses Uluwatu Resort and Luxury Hotel in Bali has used the #SpaWasteNotChallenge to come up with a novel way of tackling one of the world’s major waste issues – textiles. The Uluwatu team has come up with a way of recycling and repurposing used linen and bed sheets by turning them into beautiful Tote Bags.
What more, they recorded and uploaded an Instagram video to encourage their guests – and anyone around the world – to do the same (the video can be seen here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CQ8gd41n8LC).
Other innovative ideas adopted by Six Senses spas for #SpaWasteNotChallenge include reusing the restaurant’s leftover fruit peels to make an eco enzyme-based, multipurpose cleaning liquid (Six Senses Spa Gstaad); and saving the seaweed mud used in treatments to sell to a local company to make soaps (Six Senses Spa Elounda), with proceeds being donated to the local hospital.
Kent Richards said: “We want to make a positive difference in all the locations we operate. Areas surrounding a Six Senses resort should celebrate the impact made from us being in their community.”
He added that #SpaWasteNotChallenge has been a great way to highlight the way individual spas can make a difference.
“We want to congratulate the Sustainable Spa Association for its #SpaWasteNotChallenge. The initiative gives the global spa industry the opportunity to share best practices and get creative in how we bring wellness and sustainability together.
“We are proud of how our Six Senses teams, from Brazil to Bali and everywhere in-between, continue to move towards having zero waste and being plastic free. This underlines our key pillars of wellness and sustainability which are really two sides of the same coin.”
It’s not too late to get involved in the challenge. The SSA can provide tips and educational materials for members interested in taking part. To register and download a guide, click HERE (https://mailchi.mp/d7e9be8e039f/httpsmcusercontentcomc698519df7f4ade798f1a39bdfilesb4343eea-f15e-4adf-864d-67081caea671_spawastenotchallengepdf).
Once you have decided to take part, we suggest hosting a team building event so your staff can work together towards the task. Discuss what goes into your spa: disposable towels, treatment products, robes, slippers, food items, electronics – anything that could become waste. Then outline, with the team, what currently happens to these things when they’re worn out, break or become damaged.
The next step is to brainstorm how any of that output material could be made valuable or useful again – rather than just send them to a landfill or for incineration. Importantly, consider whether there are local entities that might be able to make use of those materials. This could even become a side business of the spa.
Once you have a plan in place, get the wheels moving and share your journey on social media using the hashtag #SpaWasteNotChallenge and tag us (@sustainablespas) in. We will share each spa’s plans and actions to show the collective impact the industry can have, and will also be giving out awards for the best entries.
Lucy Brialey, SSA co-founder, said: “It’s incredibly important for businesses to reduce their waste footprints and that this involves looking at both what goes into the business and what goes out.
“We suggest that, for #SpaWasteNotChallenge, spas choose one of their waste streams and aim to have it collected by a local business or organisation that will then be able to make use of that material for their operations. This not only directly cuts waste, but presents an opportunity to connect with the local community and to build lasting relationships within it.”
The challenge will run until August, when results and awards will be announced. The awards include:
Most creative solution
Most impactful solution
Most collaborative solution This will be an ongoing campaign that will grow year