Spa MANAGEMENT: 6 Ways to Go Green for the Holidays

6 ways to prep your retail space for a sustainable holiday season!

As the leaves start to change colors, you’re likely mapping out a plan of attack for the upcoming holiday rush—staffing, retail displays, festive wrapping, décor and of course, special seasonal gift items. The stressful holiday season can be a tough time to stick to a sustainable and eco-friendly blueprint. Which is why DAYSPA chatted with two conscientious industry experts to glean simple ideas to help keep your holiday retail operation green and eco-pleasing:

1) Avoid paper gift certificates and plastic gift cards. Resources such as SpaBooker and SpaBoom include services that create customized gift certificates that are available through your website. Gift-givers can instantly print or email them to the recipient. Heather Johnson, who serves on the marketing committee for the Green Spa Network, says spa owners can also create a mobile app for all gift certificate/discount programs and eradicate paper altogether.
But, if a plastic gift card is your only option, don’t fret--simply pass on redeemed gift cards to earth-friendly operations such as Earthworks' Retailer Gift Card Return Program. This initiative encourages businesses to send back zero-value gift cards to recycle for reusable sheet material.

2) Take it easy on the gift-wrapping materials. Opt for sustainable alternatives such as cotton, bamboo and socially conscious paper. Companies such as Green Field Paper Company offer recycled gift-wrap made with soy-based inks rather than the typical petroleum-based. Or, don’t offer gift-wrap or bags at all! “We don’t invest in gift bags,” says West-Harrison. “We ask clients if they’d like to just put their purchases in their purses. And if a client opts to not use their purse, we offer one of our recycled bags from product shipments.”

3) Find creative ways to package everything! West-Harrison has found a paper shredder to be a valuable asset. “We shred all used paper—Groupons, vendor literature, old fliers--and use it as ‘packing peanuts’ to ship gifts and products to clients,” he explains. “You always have to ask yourself, ‘Can I use this for anything else?’”

4) Embrace the digital age and offer clients electronic versions of receipts. Either email or upload them to password-protected sites. “We’re paperless,” says West Harrison. “Clients have to specifically ask us for a receipt when checking out. They end up shoved in a purse anyway.”

5) Stick to eco-friendly vendors that have demonstrated an equally avid commitment to sustainability. “We avoid partnering with vendors that use boxes to package individual products,” says Keith West-Harrison, CEO of Spa Enrichment Strategies and co-owner of Albuquerque’s Great Face and Body Spa. There are also plenty of companies that use only recyclable or biodegradable packaging.

6) Get into the spirit of the giving season and adopt an acre of rainforest, coral reef or clean water. “Create a space in your retail area to display pictures and literature detailing your adoption, making sure to include the names of the clients who have contributed to your adoption cause,” says Johnson. “Send gifts to your VIP clients notifying them of how their contribution has befitted the eco-system. This not only creates a sense of accomplishment in the fight to save the earth but also fosters a valuable and loyal bond between owners and clients.”

When implementing an eco-friendly holiday business plan, one of the most important things to do is make clients and employees fully aware of your efforts, concludes West-Harrison. “I think a lot of spas are good at doing green things, but they’re not good at discussing them with people.”