For some time now, the number of reports about the environment, its degradation and the negative impact of humans on the planet has been increasing day by day. Most often, we are talking about plastic, CO2, air pollution, tree cutting and harmful practices used to grow more trees and shrubs such as avocados or palm trees whose fruits are a source of palm oil.
Words such as sustainable, eco, fair trade, zero waste flood us from every direction, and public figures often emphasize their pro-ecological activities for PR purposes and out of the desire to improve their image.
It does not matter for what reasons we undertake pro-ecological activities, the most important thing is the effect of our actions, which brings benefits to the environment.
Initially, it was thought that changes were impossible until it turned out that one country after another was banning the use and production of non-recyclable plastic. In addition, there are clean up campaigns organized all over the world, both on land, in water and even underwater. More and more supermarket chains are completely withdrawing from plastic packaging in the fruit and vegetable section. To everyone’s surprise, such stores in New Zealand achieved several times profit in a month after phasing out plastic packaging. Why ? Well, it turns out that the consumer wants to pay more for or being aware that by purchasing a given product he supports pro-ecological activities or at least minimizes the negative impact of human activity on the earth.
The best example of a green metamorphosis that led to an increase in profits while reducing the carbon footprint is the Tierra Hotels hotel chain in Chile, which gave up its hotel star in favor of sustainable practices, but this ensured occupancy for the next few years. The average waiting time for accommodation is two years.
The hotel is 100% plastic free, even cosmetics such as toothpaste are served in glass containers so as not to generate additional waste, the water in the facility is recycled and drinking water is served without plastic bottles. Because hotel standards do not include their own water source, the chain abandoned the theoretical standard in favor of practical solutions that were appreciated by both customers and our planet.
It’s just one tube, said 8 billion people – it seems to us that as an individual household or a small company we have no impact on the natural environment – nothing could be further from the truth! In the current situation, when climate change is progressing drastically and much faster than previously expected, absolutely every gesture aimed at reducing consumption, energy used and waste generation counts.
There is an absolute boom in biodegradable packaging, which decomposes immediately and is even nutritious for marine animals that often die due to the consumption of plastic, which is abundant in absolutely every corner of the globe. The global famous beer brand is the first to introduce six-packs that will decompose in the ocean while feeding small sea animals.
Regardless of whether we run a small or large beauty salon, wellness center or other beauty facility, it is best to start with evolution, not revolution. Zero waste is difficult to achieve even on a micro scale, so it is good to start with less waste, i.e. a less waste policy. If we immediately jump into the deep end and want to eliminate waste completely overnight, we will quickly become discouraged and the effect will be completely opposite to that originally expected.
In the 1990s, the song plastic is fantastic was popular, but unfortunately no one thought about what would happen in 20 years. Nowadays, each of us consumes plastic. It is everywhere – recent research shows that we even consume it in the air!!!
It is assumed that an adult person eats 50,000 microplastic particles per year. It comes mainly from plastic water bottles, but is also present in foods such as fish, seafood and salt. The main source of microplastic consumption appears to be water, both in bottles and taps. The foods most contaminated with microplastics include beer, salt and shellfish. But also honey and fish.
Why is microplastic dangerous? Plastic particles smaller than 5 millimeters are called microplastics. Microplastics present as environmental contaminants are of concern because they can be ingested or act as contaminating vectors for humans. Microplastics can actually be transferred to humans through the food chain, accumulating in our bodies and causing harm due to their toxicity.
What to do in the office? Give up plastic bags and plastic bags, pack cosmetics purchased by customers in paper bags, reward those customers who come with their own shopping bag by giving a discount on the treatment or another form of recognition. For a pro-ecological attitude.
Give up plastic bottles in your office and instead invest in a station for filling the glass bottles that your clients bring with you. This solution is used in many ways. You can reward customers who come with their own cup – a practice used in London cafes, a person with their own cup pays 50 cents less for coffee.
Another way is to sell branded glass bottles with your own logo, firstly, they can be filled with water from the salon, secondly, they are a great carrier of information about the beauty salon they come from, but they also focus attention on practices that are a priority in a given wellbeing space.
Customers see the positive value of such a solution and will start asking how to implement such solutions at home/office.
Thanks to technology, we are able to communicate faster, reach a wider group of customers, but also diversify the offer or adapt it to the individual needs of our recipients.
Technology and CO2? This is how we can reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere by limiting printed receipts but also by digitally presenting our offer. Thanks to such solutions, thousands of paper leaflets or bills will never be printed, saving paper and trees, which will end up in the trash anyway. Thanks to digital systems, we are able to accumulate information, make statistics, and check customer preferences – so when building the perfect product, we also care about the environment.
Promoted by the World Building Council and an increasingly popular but also practiced theory confirming the benefits associated with the presence of plants in public spaces. On average, we spend 90% of our time in buildings, so the quality of the materials from which they are built, as well as the interior design, play a key role in our well-being as a customer, tenant or entrepreneur.
Many tests and studies confirm the positive impact of plants on the air quality in public spaces, but also on the well-being of both employees and customers. The color green has a relaxing and calming effect on our guests.
Moreover, by absorbing carbon dioxide, plants have a positive impact on the environment, while improving the air quality in our office or wellness space.
The key to all activities is balance. It’s better to do less but effectively than a lot in chaos and without tangible results. Small steps often unnoticed by the customer are important, e.g. the frequency of washing work clothes, the agents used to wash them, if we take care of this service ourselves, we can invest in a filter that catches plastic particles that end up in the sewage system and, as a result, in world waters.
Paper towels – commonly used to wipe off even water, can be replaced with reusable bio cloths. Cotton swabs – preferably made of sustainable, bio-cotton, which was produced in environmentally friendly conditions but whose packaging is also biodegradable, ear buds – choose those made of recycled paper instead of plastic, bio-cotton, etc.
Introduce waste division in your living room – plastic, glass, paper, metal. This is not an expensive solution – it only requires good will on the part of consumers.
At every step we have a choice, it often involves a loss of comfort, an ambitious analysis of pros and cons, but to sum up all the factors, we are able to run a sustainable business, bringing profits to the company as well as benefits to our clients.
If sustainable solutions in business and everyday life do not become a priority for us now, there will be none later…
Author – Agnieszka Pająk
Experienced health trainer, creator and editor of the popular website slowfoodlife.com. An expert in the field of sustainable green technologies, member of the Emirates Green Building Council and the Advisory Board of WELL International Airport in New York.