True for perhaps most of us, the completely recalibrated working environment and generally slower pace of the past year have brought many opportunities for reflection. In developing sustainable spa tools and learning materials, I began to recognize a fundamental shortcoming in our traditional methods of helping spas to adopt sustainability as a critical business objective. Whenever new business strategies are considered, or a decision is made to expand, or we want to change our spa operations in some way, the discussion almost always takes place at management level only. It was from within this paradigm that we initially drove green change. We took a top-down approach.
But, while it was (and still is, in many cases) up to the incumbent managers and owners to steer their operations toward sustainability, the true catalysts have remained unseen and unheard. There was simply no solution available that could integrate education in sustainable spa practices for students in well-being, somatology or beauty studies. The absence of such a vital tool also held true for several international and local education programs and courses that I consulted.
Students are important stakeholders in our industry. We have a responsibility to educate future wellness practitioners on issues around sustainability and to empower them to practice this as soon as they enter the employment market. They should be able to appreciate whether the products that they use to treat clients are properly sourced, or that their packaging is reusable or biodegradable so that, eventually, they replenish the earth. They should know whether there are any social or community benefits associated with the spa, and whether their businesses conduct ethical trade and consume resources in a sustainable way.
The Right Curriculum
“In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.” —Babe Dioum
This is how I came to focus some of the resources of Greenspa.Africa into developing a dedicated and comprehensive sustainability course for our industry, which ultimately became the Sustainable Spa Practitioner Course. It’s my sincere hope that all educators within the wellness and beauty sphere recognize the absolute necessity of sustainability and follow suit.
Charne le Roux, founder of Greenspa.Africa, opened the first dedicated organic spa in South Africa and is an accredited professional of the Green Building Council of South Africa. Through her leadership and guidance, Greenspa.Africa connects sustainable spas in Africa and helps them implement green business practices. A regular speaker at conferences and trainings, le Roux is also the author of Green Spa Guide and the creator of the Sustainable Spa Practitioner Course.