Thursday, 15 October 2009

Eco-spas and environmental massages

Inspired by Blog Action Day on climate change, I've been thinking about the environmental impacts of spas and treatments. All that heating up saunas, steam, treatment rooms and pools, the chlorine that goes into cleaning them, the various resources that get put into making the things we get wrapped in and rubbed down with.
Titanic Spa in Huddersfield (not so very far from Manchester) claims to be 'the UK's first eco-spa' and has been the subject of umpteen newspaper and online articles to that effect. There are plenty of places nowadays that claim environmental credentials, but looking at Titanic's, it does go beyond the usual Ecover surface cleaner and recycled paper. It's got a biomass CHP plant and solar photovoltaics for energy generation and a chlorine-free, salt-regulated swimming pool, and uses a cold-water laundry system for its towels, robes etc.
I'm slightly less bowled over by its statements about using product supplies with 'authentic green statements' as I've never had Decleor or Elemis down as green pioneers, but given the extent of some of their other initiatives, I'm willing to let that one slide.
A spa break at Titanic, however, is not cheap, so I was also interested to find this article suggesting ways that a home bathroom can be made into the setting for luxurious DIY spas, in an eco-fashion. It's got some good tips, ranging from sustainable flooring, which tallies with reliable sources such as Ethical Consumer's report on floor coverings, and covers other DIY issues as well as the products you might use in a home spa.
In terms of products, since I'm particularly interested in massage the main product involved is of course the oil used, so I want to finish by flagging up two ethical examples – Neals Yard, which supplies sustainably-sourced (often organic or sustainably wild-crafted) carrier and essential oils as well as ready-mixed versions, and Visionary Soap, which makes lovely ready-mixed massage oils using Fairtrade certified olive oil from Palestine (grown on often ancient trees which generate an environmentally sustainable income for farmers under military occupation by the Israeli state) and sesame oil from Nicaragua.

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