The Basics – Our Space in General
1.) We’re leasing our space. While the building itself is older and was originally built using not-so-eco-friendly materials, we haven’t had to clear land to build new construction. We’re repurposing this once outdated office space! In doing so, we only had to finish constructing 2 half walls to make three of our sound proof rooms. And our landlord painted the rooftop silver to reflect sunlight and help keep the whole building cooler, cutting down our cooling costs.
2.) We used Zero-VOC Natura paint from Benjamin Moore. It was wonderful to walk into a freshly painted room and not be overwhelmed by that chemical stench you get with regular paint. No headaches here!
3.) The trim around the doors is FSC certified lumber, stained & sealed with low-VOC wood stain and sealant. As far as our research, we couldn’t find a wood stain that was zero-VOC. But low-VOC was a good start. Ironically, it smelled like chocolate milk as we were using it!
4.) Our carpeting is actually carpet tiles from a company in our neighboring state of Georgia. The tiles are overstocks from other contractors’ jobs, say for example from a casino redoing their carpet. They ordered too much, so this company in GA buys the overstock to re-sell to folks like us. The nice thing about carpet tiles is:
A.) No Glue!
B.) Easily installed by…us! (talk about cheap labor!)
C.) Easy cleaning – just lift up and wash in the sink, let dry, & replace.
D.) If a tile is ever stained, damaged, or otherwise needs to be replaced, you just lift it out and replace with another one (we have extras). No need to replace the whole wall-to-wall carpeting and filling up the landfill!
E.) The tiles themselves are recyclable!
F.) They love their dog, Biscuit and use him in a lot of their advertising. We love companies that are animal friendly, as we love our pets too.
5.) Porcelain tile in our foyer and bathrooms. Tile has long been considered “green” as it is made of clay (earth), durable so it doesn’t need to be replaced as often as other flooring alternatives, and it’s recyclable. We purchased our tile from a local company.
6.) Our reception desk is one that came with the space – reused! However, we had to do some modifications to make it look as pretty as it does. We ordered bamboo plywood (plyboo) to face the front of it. Bamboo is a sustainable “wood” resource. We used the same low-VOC wood stain and sealant on it as the wood trim on our doorways and baseboards. Then we found this great concrete composite kit for resurfacing countertops from a company in Charleston, SC.
7.) We installed a hybrid hot water heater that is 62% more energy efficient than a regular electric hot water heater.
8.) A new HVAC unit needed to be installed. For the most part the newer systems are more efficient now. We also had four zones installed so we can control the temperature in the rooms separately from the reception area and relaxation room.
9.) We installed an Energy Star washer & dryer. Instead of shipping our laundry out to a service that will use harsh chemicals, we do the laundry in-house. This allows us to cut down on transportation of our linens, as well as having control over what is used to wash them. We use USDA Organic laundry detergent and set our washer on the sanitizer setting. We also don’t use fabric softener or chemical-based dryer sheets.
10.) All of our toilets are WaterSense certified, meaning they use less water per flush. (Plus we made sure the lids are easylift, so they won’t ever slam down and ruin that quiet calm atmosphere we have here at Ahh Green Spa.)
11.) All of our sink faucets are WaterSense low-flow sinks.
12.) The bases for our bathroom countertops are made from recycled wood.
13.) You’ll notice we don’t have paper towels or an air dryer unit to dry your hands with. We decided instead to use dry washcloths. One is a perfect size to dry your hands well. They are single use – toss used ones into the larger basket on the countertop. We wash them all with USDA Organic laundry detergent using the sanitizer setting on our washer. We anticipate we’ll be able to reuse them for quite some time. Once they do become worn out though, they will be donated to a local animal shelter to use.
14.) Our massage tables were bought lightly used from another local spa that no longer had a use for them. These massage tables have been given a new lease on life instead of winding up in the landfill.
15.) The armoires, wooden tables and some of the chairs in each of our treatment rooms were found at local consignment stores. This furniture has been given a new purpose instead of winding up in the landfill.
16.) The furniture in the relaxation room was either purchased second-hand locally or bought new from IKEA, one of the Top 10 eco-friendly corporations in the world!
17.) Our lamps in the relaxation room and the treatment rooms are from IKEA and the light bulbs use CFL technology. Plus they are lower wattage to start with to give us that warm, soft, relaxing lighting. AND they are on dimmer switches, using even less energy. As more LED bulb options become available, we will be replacing the CFL bulbs.
18.) The artwork we have displayed is from local artists. Why not support our local artists? All artwork is for sale. Ask our receptionist for details.
19.) The cups and silverware in our relaxation lounge are the real thing – glass, ceramic, metal. No paper or plastic here! We wash all dishes nightly or as needed throughout the day so we can reuse them.
20.) Cloth napkins are supplied in the relaxation lounge. They are easy to toss in the washer with the hand towels and other linens, sanitize and reuse!
21.) The water fountain supplies cold drinking water or hot water to make your own personal cup of tea just the way you like it. The 5 gallon water bottle is BPA-free, refillable and recyclable! We refill it at a nearby filtered water station – 2 miles down the road on our way from home to the spa.
22.) We use organic massage lotion.
23.) For our Sticks & Stones treatments we use reusable (renewable) bamboo sticks and genuine river stones.
24.) Our facial line, Skin Organics by Ann Webb is made with organic, fair trade ingredients, is cruelty-free and packaged & shipped in recyclable materials.
25.) Our body scrubs and lotions from Bella Lucce are made with organic, Fair Trade ingredients, recycled content containers that are recyclable (again!), shipped to us using recycled boxes and packing materials, and are cruelty-free.
26.) We offer Greenbug personal bug spray – a safe, all natural alternative to chemical bug sprays. It utilizes cedar oil to repel and kill insects. It smells good, doesn’t leave a residue and is safe for people and pets!
27.) We offer Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps now! Dr. Bronner is like the “Godfather” of all things organic and Fair Trade. Wonderfully gentle yet effective. We feature the handsoap in our bathrooms for your use and also have a selection of bars and liquid soaps, as well as lip balm for you to take home and enjoy!
Office Supplies & Cleaning Supplies
28.) We use recycled paper in our printer.
29.) We print both sides of the paper when we can.
30.) We reuse paper internally when we can (making small notepads).
31.) We recycle as much of our waste as we can. Most of our waste is paper/cardboard and plastic, which is easily recyclable.
32.) For our basic cleaning supplies, we are experimenting with different brands - Method, Seventh Generation, etc. With so many choices out there we’re trying to find the best cleaner with the least “green-washing” at the best price. We’ll keep you posted on what we discover.
While we may not be the “greenest green,” we had to balance using eco-friendly products with what was readily available, affordable and keeping proper hygiene standards and criteria in mind. Some products we would’ve liked to use were either unavailable to us due to shipping criteria on small orders, or cost-prohibitive. Some products that aren’t organic or eco-friendly we MUST use due to state health regulations. We’re hoping as the green movement becomes more widespread, it will be easier and more affordable to get everything “green” as well as new innovations coming available down the pipeline.
In the coming weeks I’ll elaborate more on each of these items, why we chose what we did and any new information we learn about all these great products!