How important is it for the spa industry to be sustainable?
Vitally important. There should be no separation between personal wellbeing and sustaining the health of the planet. Our individual wellness is directly dependent on our access to a healthy environment.
As a company, you place heavy emphasis on sustainability – could you tell us about that?
Jeff and Linda Riach, the founders of Oakworks, have always been committed to sustainability. Since 1978, before it became a global trend, Oakworks took a step-by-step approach to ensure a high level of protection of the environment. Jeff hand-crafted our first portable table with regionally-sourced materials.
Today, we manufacture all tables and trolleys at our headquarters in Pennsylvania, which is an ISO 13485 certified medical facility. Materials are locally sourced when possible and are non-toxic – we use PVC-free fabric and water-based sealers and lacquers. We also partner with companies such as 3form, which provides recycled and responsibly-sourced materials.
Since January 2008, we’ve also been donating to Trees for the Future, a non-profit organisation. In 2017, we planted our millionth tree through the initiative.
Do you see being sustainable as a way of standing out in a competitive market?
Any efforts to stop global warming and to reduce carbon footprints will be an advantage when talking to wellness customers. While sustainable practices do add a cost to products, true wellness practitioners understand that the best experience comes from a holistic approach. It is counter-intuitive to provide a wellness session where a customer breathes in toxic fumes from foams that have not been regulated on a table built with wood that hasn’t been responsibly processed.
Do you think the wellness sector places enough emphasis on sustainability?
There isn’t enough emphasis yet to the urgency of regenerative practices and their impact on health and wellness. The challenges are both philosophical and practical, where perceived costs and the reluctance to take more “robust” risks prevent companies from adopting sustainable practices.
The good news is that we will be hearing more and more about these programmes in the near future. The Global Wellness Institute, through its Sustainability Initiative, is already planting the seeds.