Environmentally responsible spa owners are increasingly partnering with vendors who are committed to “walking the talk.”
April 22 marks the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day. However, most of us understand that achieving true sustainability goes well beyond honoring the environment on a given day—rather, it’s about practicing a commitment to green practices on a daily basis. That’s why an increasing number of spas nationwide are embracing the green way of doing business. And, they seek suppliers and manufacturers that share their philosophies.
Fortunately, more and more spa industry manufacturers have become proactively involved in conserving our planet. They’ve looked beyond the basics, such as opting for more natural or organic product ingredients and, like so many day spas, are utilizing eco-friendly alternatives within their own operations. Here, several environmentally responsible companies share their ideas about social responsibility, and discuss the large and small measures taken at their product source points, manufacturing plants and offices—to maintain a small footprint. —By Melinda Taschetta-Millane
“Incorporating social responsibility into our business approach and practice has been a mandate at Éminence Organic Skin Care since the very beginning,” says Boldijarre Koronczay (pictured, above), president and founder. In fact, two major pillars of the company’s corporate philosophy are 1) giving back to the community, and 2) environmental responsibility.
Planting and harvesting at Éminence farms in Hungary utilize sustainable practices that are easy on the environment. “We use natural compost and plant preservation techniques such as honey traps instead of toxic chemical pesticides,” explains Koronczay. “We rely on manual labor in order to produce as little carbon dioxide as possible. Plus, we only harvest our organic and biodynamic ingredients from controlled areas.”
Éminence uses geothermal heating in its laboratory, where products are created by hand, and products are shipped using biodiesel delivery trucks and also through an airline with a special program in place to offset carbon emissions. “Our warehouses use 100% biodegradable corn packing chips that dissolve harmlessly in water, as well as software that eliminates the need for printing paper invoices,” states Koronczay. “Our offices have been planned to be energy-efficient and incorporate solar panels. Plus, we offer a subsidy to help incentivize staff to take public transit to work.”
The Éminence offices, warehouses and ingredient farms each use comprehensive recycling programs to ensure reduction of waste, which includes paper and packaging. “We use recycled, nontoxic plastic, boxes made with postconsumer recycled material, and natural inks and dyes on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper,” says Koronczay. “And we’re so excited about our latest initiative, Forests for the Future. In order to fight the leading cause of global climate change, we will plant a tree for every product sold. In the first year, we estimate that trees equivalent to approximately 1,000 football fields will be planted around the world.”
Koronczay admits that all of these measures can be challenging, but feels the rewards are more than worth the effort. “We have proven that providing extraordinary products and service for our customers can be done in an environmentally responsible manner. In fact, that’s something we believe is integral to our success,” he says. “It’s rewarding to lead the spa industry in green practices, to give back to our community and do our part to save the planet. It’s also very rewarding to see the dramatic shift toward sustainability in the industry since we began.”
Jurlique’s stated mission is to provide the purest, most effective skin care through nature, science and innovation. “We believe in giving something back to the world by always seeking new ways to improve our business practices in line with our commitment to corporate and social responsibility,” stresses Richard Pietz, global director of product development. “Our main areas of attention are enacting positive environmental practices, and undertaking initiatives that support the empowerment of women and girls around the world to lead better lives.
“We have a motivated and active ‘Green Team’ at our manufacturing site and farm, that ensures we keep ourselves honest from an environmental perspective,” continues Pietz. “Our environmental sustainability policy is well-established, and everyone in the company is made aware of its importance to Jurlique upon employment.”
Jurlique follows strict organic farming principles on its biodynamic farm, certified by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia. The company has also committed to sourcing ingredients from sustainable and fair-trade suppliers.
Jurlique’s goal is a 20% reduction of energy and water consumption by 2015. “At our manufacturing site and farm, we have undertaken a comprehensive energy audit to determine our current energy usage and potential efficiency projects,” Pietz reports. “We currently have multiple projects underway to conserve energy, including a comprehensive behavioral change campaign to educate our staff on the benefits, both environmental and economic, of energy conservation.”
At SpaRitual, “environmental and social awareness” is more than a buzz phrase—it is the company mantra. “For us, being conscious is not enough. We are active participants in a global movement to change the way business is conducted, and are constantly on the lookout for ingredients and processes that lessen our impact on the environment,” says Shel Pink, founder.
SpaRitual’s facilities are designed to conserve, says Pink. “The new roof installed at each facility has a reflective white coating to eliminate excessive air conditioning,” she explains. “The addition of skylights throughout the distribution facility minimizes daytime lighting. In addition, light motion sensors turn lights on and off.” Energy-efficient air conditioning is installed in office areas, and restroom toilets consist of low-water, gallons-per-minute certified units. Timers, sensors and thermostats also conserve energy, and automated process controls are employed to accurately regulate heating and cooling cycles in manufacturing.
SpaRitual uses FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)-certified materials to create its packaging, literature and marketing materials. “And we maintain relationships with print vendors who are FSC-certified,” adds Pink.
Pink believes that sustainability is a lifestyle and a calling, and stresses that SpaRitual is committed to spreading the word. “While we’ve always been green, we strive to be greener. We encourage our partners and customers to be more conscious about their business practices and buying habits,” she states. “We don’t look for a reward for our practices, as we hope that every business will adopt these types of changes.”
As a manufacturer of wood-based treatment tables, EarthLite is particularly sensitive to the issue of sustainability. The company utilizes only farmed and renewable wood sources in its products—rainforest hardwoods or wood from old growth forests are never touched. And, to help maintain its carbon-neutral status, EarthLite plants a tree for every table it builds in its three global facilities.
The other materials used in the company’s tables are just as environmentally sound, from its CFC-free foams and PU vinyls, to its earth-friendly lacquers and glues. And within EarthLite’s manufacturing operations, recycling is a foregone conclusion—and that includes wood scraps, aluminum, glass and paper products.
EarthLite’s efforts to minimize its impact continue, say its founder, Tomas Nani. “We made a number of Earth-friendly changes in our product line and sourcing, including our new, [trademarked) PVC-free NaturSoft and Nature’s Touch vinyl lines and an Earth-friendly global sourcing network,” Nani says. “We’re proud of our efforts in this area and, of course, our work to harmonize with the environment will only increase with time.”
Emani takes great pride in its Clean Beauty mission of providing ethically produced beauty products. “We believe in producing Emani products in the United States for better quality control, and keeping our jobs in America,” states founder and CEO Michelle Doan. “We use clean ingredients that are free of harsh chemicals, parabens, dyes and animal derivatives.”
In addition, 99% of Emani’s packaging is made from 100% recycled paper with soy-based ink, making its paper packing 100% biodegradable. “Reducing waste is something we take seriously here at Emani on a daily basis,” stresses Doan. “Conservation practices should be exercised on all levels, from bottle/can/plastic recycling to the re-use of cartons and packaging.” For instance, all of Emani’s excess paper packaging is shipped back to the company’s packaging mill for recycling.
The reward of these efforts is a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the environment. “We believe change can be huge when small practices are executed on a daily basis,” Doan says.
Protecting the earth and maintaining an affinity with nature and its precious resources is an integral part of Pevonia’s philosophy. Pevonia’s fervent commitment to environmental preservation began with the brand’s inception in 1991 and has continued steadfast for more than two decades. As a driving force in the industry’s ongoing development and outreach, the company prides itself as a global leader in natural, cruelty-free products that are chirally correct and deliver professional results.
Additionally, Pevonia International adheres to and encourages its Global Distribution Network (100+ countries) to implement a “business best” recycling and power conservation program (reduced power consumption, eco-friendly work stations, paperless/nearly paperless communication, etc.). Pevonia also offers post-consumer recyclable/reusable packaging and is an avid supporter of key environmental preservation organizations.
Respecting Mother Earth is nothing new for Aveda. Founded in 1978, the company has always been at the industry’s cutting edge in this regard, “innovating botanical technologies and rituals of wellness to promote beauty and balance, while pursuing an ambitious social and environmental agenda,” says Chuck Bennett, vice president of Aveda Earth and Community Care. Empowered by its unique mission, the company strives to set new benchmarks for itself when it comes to environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility. “By turning conventional thinking on its end, Aveda demonstrates that a beauty manufacturer can provide a habitat for native wildlife as part of its facilities, produce with 100% renewable energy, and sell products with naturally derived ingredients that provide cutting-edge performance.
“Aveda tries to ensure its products will not only benefit customers through exceptional performance, but will positively impact the people and economies from which the product’s ingredients are sourced,” Bennett continues. “We do so whenever possible by using organic, sustainable or renewable plant-based ingredients, providing fair compensation to suppliers, and/or purchasing ingredients that are biodegradable and processed in an environmentally responsible manner.”
The company is proud to manufacture with 100% certified wind power. “Aveda believes that supporting organic agriculture is the first step toward truly sustainable agriculture,” says Bennett. “We have increased our organic certified oils and raw herbal ingredient purchases from a tonnage volume of approximately 25% in 2000 to more than 90% today. Energy efficiency has been a key focus from the time we began our own manufacturing operation more than 20 years ago. We continuously monitor our water use and introduce new technologies for reducing consumption whenever feasible, ranging from low-flow plumbing fixtures to highly efficient, clean-in-place systems in our manufacturing operations.”
As the company’s name suggests, Elina Organics’ product ingredients are certified organic through the U. S. Food and Drug Administration.
“People want to use a product that will benefit their skin, and not contain unnecessary ingredients,” says Elina Fedotova, company founder and CEO. “I’m a cosmetic chemist, and I made myself promise that I would create only clean products.”
Fedotova says she keeps a sharp eye on water consumption, uses nothing toxic and recycles. “I am very careful to keep the company’s footprint low,” she stresses. “I am a small company but my products are in hundreds of salons.”
“I think we need to realize that we are all citizens of this tiny planet,” Fedotova concludes. “We’re all interconnected. If our planet is not clean, how can we be healthy? I encourage all estheticians to talk with their clients, get them thinking. Live through example. We could change the entire industry. People are looking for this. It’s possible, and it can be done.”
For 121 years, Kneipp has made natural products based on the holistic philosophy of its founder, Sebastian Kneipp. “Our mission is to stay true to the company’s heritage and ensure long-term success while meeting the demands of our time, particularly with regard to the increasing scarcity of resources,” says Angela Kreipl, head of communications. “We are conscious of our responsibility to make sure that our lifestyle today is not lived at the expense of future generations and nature.”
A recent step toward anchoring sustainability within the company was taken in September 2010, when Kneipp amended its mission statement to include: In keeping with the spirit of this philosophy, we are conscious of our corporate responsibility to act in a manner that promotes sustainable development (economic, ecological and social). This laid the strategic foundation for establishing sustainability within every division, and having that force inform all departmental strategies.
Kneipp strives to manufacture its own products to the extent that is economically feasible, which in turn enables the company to safeguard jobs and to expand its workforce when possible. “A maximum level of in-house production contributes decisively to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by minimizing transport distances and saving shipping costs,” explains Kreipl. “When outside production is unavoidable, we select our contract partners carefully. Part of our supplier certification process includes addressing sustainability-related issues.”
As a member of the local Energy Efficiency Initiative of Lower Franconia, Germany, Kneipp has been working intensively since 1996 on a variety of conservation measures to reduce its carbon footprint. A further major milestone was reached in October 2010, when all Kneipp locations converted to 100% hydroelectric energy.
At the heart of the Kneipp brand are its products, which embody the company’s core values: nature, efficacy, and quality. “Upholding these values means making sure that every product meets them, starting in the R&D phase,” Kreipl concludes.
Melinda Taschetta-Millane is a Chicago-based writer and editor who has specialized in the professional skincare industry for the past 18 years.