Author Archives: Jessica Gilden

Green is Growing Up

And it’s a good thing too.

It means that the pursuit of sustainability is looking less like a race that can’t be won and more grounded than the lofty ideal that a handful of brave souls championed on the heels of the initial ‘green’ movement. Remember that?

Remember when the guts of embracing green at the personal level was about sorting your recyclables, riding your bike to work and going out of your way to find fresh “organic” vegetables to eat?  When the business angle on taking a stand for the environment built its foundation on not much more than mere statements of commitment and the rampant green-wash marketing that actually succeeded in influencing consumers?

The movement, if it can even be called that anymore, has matured, morphing into a global mega trend that continues growing, like a very healthy elephant in the room, with undeniable credibility.  There are more and more intelligent people of all ages, from all walks of life and all sides of any aisle paying attention to real concerns about how our future is going to look.  And so, like GSN, the pursuit of sustainability now has legs that may just be capable of winning that race after all.

GSN is one of many organizations that were formed when the imperative for sustainability was more of a grass roots movement at the cultural level.  Our founders brought a passion to expressing their vision that was contagious and, like so many movements working to organize and inspire action, backed into the business of the matter mission first.

This breach birth of a business, if you will, made for challenging initial years for GSN as it’s ‘legs’ have emerged last.  It’s also why, in spite of the awkwardness of that phase, the association has continued to grow for nearly 8 years now.  The vision remains pure and the mission is more relevant than ever.

Looking forward from 2015, The Green Spa Network stands ready to take a huge stride in delivering on its promise to green an industry through inspired action.  Beyond just joining in spirit and action with a tribe of like-minded passionate spa people to reduce our carbon footprint, our association is ready to declare a vision for the future that brings to life the next dimension of positive impact our industry can make.

This vision is one where spas as businesses embrace the same principles, values and philosophies that we espouse for our guests.  One where spa professionals lead balanced vital lives, not because they’re supposed to, but because they’re supported and nurtured through their careers and by the companies they work for.  It’s one where the future is shared not scared.  Where holistic vitality, evolution and expansion have replaced linear growth, preservation and survival.

The truth is that the GSN community is still working out some of the details that will guide the development of our best tools and resources. But knowing that we already provide a rallying point for anyone to engage, be inspired and bring abundance to a sustainable future is really what this association is all about.

In a world with more than enough uncertainties to find a way to live with on a daily basis I gain a welcome measure of peace in knowing that together, we are contributing to conscious change.  This is what engaging with GSN can do for you too.



Is Your Sustainability Program Sustainable?

Where the Green Spa Network can help

If you’re an advocate for sustainability you’ve probably been on a “green team” at your spa or hotel.  Maybe you’ve even led it.  If your experience is like mine, meetings get scheduled, discussions happen, projects are decided on, tasks assigned and then reasonably little progress is made until the next meeting.

In general this is because these initiatives are usually driven more by passion and less by objective data.  Without this, most green teams spend their time doing things that seem obvious and “easy” like improving recycling, diverting surplus product to people in need or changing light bulbs.  As easy as these things sound, implementation often get bogged down in the reality of changing the way people behave.  Awareness campaigns, staff training, and often personal time off the clock to deliver skin care products to the nearest shelter become the focus of the program’s actions. These things are a really great start but it’s challenging to keep motivation up when there’s so much more that can be done. Over time the lack of measurable results compared to the energy put in leads to frustration… I could digress, but I think you get it; as ironic as it is, most greening programs are not sustainable.

One of the initial challenges is establishing a baseline against which to measure the progress you make. It’s difficult to measure and grade “greenness”. This has been a fact of life in the sustainability movement since the beginning.  Not only does the landscape of what to measure and how to measure it change but understanding what area of action (conservation, energy, waste, management, etc.) will have the most impact on your business and bottom line isn’t as easy as it sounds.

This is where the Green Spa Network comes in.  We’re here to balance this equation for spas and make grounded evaluation, planning, and execution of sustainability efforts in your business easier.  In simple terms, GSN members are committed to investing in sustainable business practices and our goal as an association is for spas to spend less time figuring out what to do and how to do it and more time doing it.

We’re getting close to the official launch of our first generation Strategic Assessment Tool.  Like all things sustainable, it’s not perfect but it is based on information gleaned from real world experience in our business sector and we are constantly improving it. As more spas use the simple survey and toolkit  to empower their green team’s efforts we will really begin to change the game for our industry.

That’s pretty exciting if you ask me.

I look forward to sharing the journey with you.

Paul Schmidt