Waste Not, Want Not

Check out four facilities that have mastered the art of composting–to great greening <em>and</em> beautifying effect!
Osmosis has used compost since the 1980s!

According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), yard trimmings and food residuals—materials that can benefit the ecosphere—together constitute 27% of the country’s municipal solid waste stream.

What happens then? Yard wastes decompose within landfills, generating methane (a greenhouse gas) and acidic leachate (liquid containing concentrated hazardous waste). “If methane isn’t controlled at a landfill, it can seep underground and into nearby buildings, where it has the potential to explode,” the EPA reports. “Yard wastes also contribute acidity that can make other waste constituents more mobile and therefore, more toxic.”

In an effort to avoid such potentially damaging consequences, many conscientious spa owners have turned to composting—compiling wet, organic waste and waiting for the materials to break down into soil during a period of weeks or months—as a way to keep these materials at work within the ecosystem and, oftentimes, enhance the beauty of their property.

“Closing the waste loop at the spa is, of course, a huge benefit, but the biggest benefit of composting happens in the garden,” says Michael Stusser, owner of Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Freestone, California. “Compost serves not only as fertilizer for landscaping, but also as soil conditioner.” Plants also feed off of microbial interactions, Stusser says, making compost a kind of “yogurt for your plants.”

And contributing to a healthier planet while promoting individuals’ wellness allows you to set a positive example for guests, employees and communities.

With so many benefits to reap, some spas have decided to enact their own composting systems. At its simplest level, composting requires heaping waste into a bin. Modern, methodical composting, however, entails multi-step, closely monitored processes requiring measured inputs of water, aeration, and carbon- and nitrogen-rich materials. Here, we look at four spa operations that successfully employ different composting practices.