Courtesy of The Raithwaite Estate Spa, N Yorks

Are you feeding your spa customers waste plastic?


This month I want to explore a very important topic “plastic in our oceans, plastic in our bodies” and set out some ways in which we can easily and sustainably make changes in our spas and everyday lives, that can have a big impact overall, not only to our oceans but also to our health and wellbeing. 

“(Natural News) Experts estimate that at least 70 percent of all plastic is not recovered or recycled, with a figure that there is over 150 million tons of plastic in the world’s oceans. So unless drastic steps are taken there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.

Micro plastics pose the greatest threat of all to marine and human life because they are so small that they are easily ingested by marine animals. Many of the fish that eat these plastics are then eaten by humans higher up the food chain and experts are gravely concerned about what the long-term effects of this might be.

Years of eating food packaged, stored and heated in plastic containers, plastic micro-beads contained in cosmetics and plastic fibres from clothes contaminating drinking water means we inadvertently consume plastic that our bodies cannot digest or process.  Now, a new study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology says it's possible that humans may be consuming anywhere from 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles a year. (So says the National Geographic). 


Photo credit: The Sunday Times online


Photo credit: Natural news

The plastic in the sea could be getting into the food you serve to your spa customers! Not really the health message we should be promoting is it?

Your business can reduce this risk with the food offering being fresh, nutritious and honest food that never comprises on taste. Guests should enjoy high-quality and sustainable ingredients in all the delicious dishes, that nourish and sustain. 

We don’t need one person being perfectly plastic free. We need a million people being imperfectly plastic free. In one study by BRITA UK, it was noted that 70% of businesses are currently looking to cut down on single-use plastics, like straws and water bottles. (Aug 2018). 

So what can we do to reduce the amount of plastic we use in our spas? 

A great starting point to reducing plastic waste is to have a better understanding of what materials your spa uses and ultimately, what is thrown away. Commit to a waste audit and go through bins and record what plastics are being thrown away and you’ll soon see instant opportunities for change. For example, perhaps you supply water bottles or disposable utensils — are customers drinking just a few each day, or are dozens of plastic water bottles and utensils being used and thrown away? If you supply plastic coffee cup lids, are they getting thrown away or are they being recycled? Is plastic packaging waste abundant from your suppliers? 

Choose items that come in safety packaging. Look for glass bottles. Why should a product that we use for a few weeks or months, come in a plastic case that will be around for longer than we are alive! 

Encourage your guests to carry their reusable coffee cups or offer compostable cups. 

Don’t use straws or other single-use plastic items EVER! 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. 

Scrummi Spa, member of The UK Spa Association, offers towels which are made from totally natural fibres, sourced from sustainably managed forests. Unfortunately, there are other brands that claim to be eco-friendly, but actually contain plastic so they don’t biodegrade. 

Scrummi Spa, MD Rob Cooper spoke with Spa Life recently and mentioned that the easiest way to check whether single-use towels are free from hidden plastic, is to set fire to them! Should there be hard fragments left which give off black smoke, then they contain plastic. However, if the towel burns to ash with a white smoke plume, its wood based. 

Another example of product innovation, comes from BC Softwear (a UK-based spa linen supplier) as they have introduced an eco-friendly robe made from a combination of bamboo and cotton. This bamboo bathrobe, boasts a ‘silky soft’ texture and is hypoallergenic and incredibly hygienic, due to the antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal properties of the bamboo. 


Photo credit: Christine-Alice Hartigan 

Several other giants in the beauty world have committed to reducing their plastic waste: 

Last year, Boots UK signed up to the UK Plastics Pact, led by WRAP – “a multi stakeholder initiative, bringing together more than 60 organisations and individuals, to tackle plastic waste and mark a fundamental change in the way we design, produce, use, re-use, dispose and reprocess plastics”. 

Superdrug say during December 2018, 70% of our own brand packaging including gifting is widely recyclable and the company are committed to ensuring that at least 90% is widely recyclable by 2021. 

The Body Shop confirmed to the Evening Standard (Dec 2018) that “plastics, particularly polyethylene are no longer used as exfoliating particles in any of our products and we have not formulated products using plastic micro beads since 2015”. 

Environmental secretary Michael Gove has confirmed that plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds will be banned as from April 2020. He has said that the UK has to take ‘urgent and decisive action’ single-use plastics. 

Great strides are being made in the beauty sector, don’t let us fall behind in the spa market!! 


Christine-Alice Hartigan 

UKSA Vice chairman 

SPACE & PLACE: Wellness; Lifestyle by design

Source reference:


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Thursday, 17 October 2019

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