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The Premier Spa Business Resource

February 2010 $5.00


Promos and Products


Controlling Hyperpigmentation PLUS

Antiaging Peptides Managing Millennial Workers Recycling Product Containers

GREEN SCENE By Kimiko L. Martinez

A Higher Purpose Recycling is one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint. But not every bottle in your spa can be tossed into that bin. First, you’ve got to get rid of the remnants inside—and in the beauty industry, that’s not always a simple task. Skin- and haircare products often contain chemicals that are considered hazardous waste. And while there’s no need to pull on a hazmat suit to dispose of these toxic tidbits, you should think twice about what you toss into the trash or pour down the drain. Here, we provide tips for prepping your containers for proper disposal, how you can repurpose products through a recycling plan and ways that companies build sustainability into their packaging.

Talking Trash

Getting rid of your empty bottles and tubes— whether they contain lotions, scrubs or nail polish—seems like an easy task, but that’s not always the case. Ideally, a facility will use backbar products in their entirety, and then rinse, dry and recycle the containers. This process, of course, requires the removal of all residue. If the original product is free of synthetic chemicals, dyes and preservatives, then any leftovers can safely be disposed of in the sewage system. “What does ‘disposal’ mean?” asks Rhana Pytell,


February 2010

cofounder and director of GAIA Day Spa (gaia in La Jolla, California, and a board member of Green Spa Network (greenspanetwork .org). “Usually, it’s landfill or down the drain. Going green means working toward zero waste or nothing to throw away.” But what happens if a product isn’t all-natural or organic? That’s when things get tricky. “Nail polish contains solvents that cannot be disposed of this way—technically, they’re hazardous materials,” Pytell says. Since it’s tough to get the last traces of lacquer out of a bottle, it’s often necessary to swish acetone around to dissolve any remaining color. This mixture of enamel and acetone should then be brought to a hazardous waste facility. “Landfills are the wrong place for these items,” Pytell says. “We don’t want them leaching into the soil and groundwater.” Unfortunately, it’s not just nail polish that’s the culprit. In addition to household hazardous waste products labeled toxic, poisonous, corrosive, flammable, combustible or irritating, others can also become harmful if inappropriately used or stored. These items can include alcohol-based lotions; isopropyl alcohol; hair relaxers, dyes and permanents; and products in aerosol cans. Proper disposal comes in many forms. It depends on where you live, how your wastewater is treated, what your local waste management company ultimately does with garbage (generally landfill or incinerator) and how your product is packaged. Here are some tips to help you get started: •K  now your products. Check with your local waste management company or sanitation district for guidelines on which ingredients are OK to toss or pour out in your cosmetics and skincare items. For national guidelines and more local resources, consult the Environmental Protection Agency’s Wastes site,


Once you’re done with the products in your spa, consider the alternatives to simply throwing them away.

Reproduced with permission from DAYSPA magazine. ©2010 by Creative Age Publications. All rights reserved.


•W  hen in doubt, examine product labels. They sometimes indicate whether ingredients are hazardous or provide disposal recommendations. Read them carefully and follow the manufacturers’ suggestions. •T  hink locally. If your city or waste management company recycles, its representatives will let you know where to go (curbside pickup versus a recycling center or plant) and what types of recyclables they accept. Visit to locate centers and hazardous waste facilities near you. •S  ort it out. Once you know what you can recycle in your area, you may need to separate items from each other before processing. Bottles and jars can be plastic, glass

aren’t as earth-friendly as the ones you carry. Start a beauty products trade-in day where customers can bring in cosmetics and skincare items they no longer use. Offer a discount, coupon or credit toward a service or product. They’ll feel good knowing that you’ll properly dispose of their cast-offs, and it’s an incentive to get them using the sustainable, eco-friendly or organic product lines your facility carries. Some spas already do this on a regular basis. “When people bring in their half-used containers of cleansers, moisturizers, shampoos, etc., we give them $5 toward a new organic product,” says Sheila Armen, co-owner and business manager of Strong House Spa (stronghousespa .com) in Quechee, Vermont. “We

Becoming a paragon of product recycling could result in another way to reach out to your guests. or metal, not to mention that they usually come in boxes made of thin cardboard or paper stock. For plastics, check the number on the bottom of the container to make sure it’s accepted, and break down any boxes so they’re flat before turning them in.

Implementing Change

Many consumers don’t connect spas with repurposing their empty bottles. However, becoming a paragon of product recycling could result in another way to reach out to your guests. “A great service for the spa to provide would be a basket for clients to drop off their old nail polish, mascara, hair dye and aerosols,” Pytell says. “You could then deliver these materials to the local hazardous waste facility.” This is another way to spread the green gospel, especially if your guests use skincare products from lines that


February 2010

empty the containers into two buckets. One holds all of the cleansers, and our recycling company uses them to wash their trucks. The other bucket is taken to the hazardous waste facility, where it’s disposed of properly.” Armen and her employees don’t stop there; they make an effort to properly trash electronic equipment. “We also set up a program with our recycling company for Anything With a Plug Day to process computers, small appliances, curling irons, etc.,” she says. “I’d suggest that every spa owner get to know her waste disposal company and work with it to reach zero waste.” You can also employ some creative methods for remaining traces of product. The eco-friendly website GreenYour ( recommends blending lipstick stubs with Vaseline for quick glosses, or combining several nearly dead colors for a custom shade. As for lipstick tubes, the

Reproduced with permission from DAYSPA magazine. ©2010 by Creative Age Publications. All rights reserved.


site says to try cleaning them out for use as pillboxes or sewing kits.

Start at the Source

You can also show your commitment to sustainability by supporting companies that offer earth-friendly products in similarly thoughtful packaging. This is done with recyclable plastic or glass, or items that already contain post-consumer waste or recycled materials. For instance, vegan nailcare line SpaRitual (spa encases its new Handprint lotion in a reused yarn tube. As part of a limited-time partnership with Trash for Teaching (trashforteach, the product comes with a flyer that demonstrates how to turn the yarn tube into a bud vase with the help of a plastic water bottle. Aveda ( recently reintroduced its Vintage Clove Shampoo, the bottles for which are made from 96% post-consumer recycled high-density polyethylene and 100% post-consumer recycled caps from its Caps Recycling Program. It enlists the participation of the company’s network of salons and stores, partners with community schools nationwide to collect water, soda, detergent and shampoo plastic

polypropylene bottle caps. They’re then sent to a plastics recycler to be ground and molded into new caps. Many of these efforts have spread the word for companies with environmentally friendly mission statements. Nail polish brand Zoya (artofbeauty .com), which manufactures lacquer free from formaldehyde, toluene, DBPs and camphor, has held promotions in which spa and salon professionals can mail in bottles of other polish brands to receive complimentary Zoya colors. The company handles disposal on its own. Another type of product that’s difficult to reuse is lipstick—the tubes from which account for 12% of plastic waste, according to GreenYour. Similar to Zoya, Lip Ink (lipink .com) clients receive a free trial kit of the company’s earth-friendly, waxfree, semi-permanent liquid lip colors when they mail in an old lipstick tube. Lip Ink will then send it off for proper disposal. A number of manufacturers— including Being TRUE (truecosmet, Grafton Cosmetics (grafton, Jane Iredale (jane and Mineral Mine (min—have introduced reworked, refillable packaging. When one blush or eye shadow runs out, the

Bright Idea! Small investment, big payoff. “We saved a couple thousand dollars in our energy costs by installing green insulation and compact fluorescent lighting, among other protocols. We’re also tightening up on our backbar product usage by implementing portion controls that keep better track of per-treatment use.” Eva Sztupka-Kerschbaumer, co-owner ESSpa Kozmetika Organic Skincare (, Pittsburgh


February 2010

Reproduced with permission from DAYSPA magazine. ©2010 by Creative Age Publications. All rights reserved.


Pre-Disposed Before you toss used or unwanted products, consider these six tips: 1. Follow instructions. If the manufacturer includes disposal recommendations on the label, follow them. 2. Use it up. This might be easier said than done, but utilize as much of the product as you can. Also, if you don’t use much of a particular item, opt for the retail size instead of the larger, professional container. 3. Recycle. These days, the three Rs stand for reduce, reuse and recycle. The latter downsizes your carbon footprint by giving packaging materials new life as another container or post-consumer waste incarnation. Find out if a collection program is available in your area. 4. Donate. This option is often overlooked, but it’s just as eco-friendly. If you’ve discontinued certain nail colors and skincare products, consider passing these items—used or not—onto a charitable organization in your community. 5. Special treatment. Landfills sometimes accept hazardous wastes if you follow certain procedures. Similarly, specific wastes can be flushed down the drain along with plenty of water. But don’t try this unless you’ve received approval from your waste management company. Find more resources and regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Wastes website, 6. Save for a waste collection day. Many municipalities offer a special day during which businesses and residents can drop off hazardous household products that shouldn’t go to the landfill. Consider partnering with local organizations to start your own, or collaborate with your local city/community to be a part of a drive.

entire compact doesn’t have to go. A client can instead buy her favorite colors separately, saving that glass and plastic from the waste bin. One company that’s known for its eco-friendly practices is Éminence Organic Skin Care (eminence, which uses recycled paper in its packaging. It also operates a Green Spa Program for day spas that partner with the company

spa for refills,” says co-owner Scott Kerschbaumer. “It saves them money, and makes them more loyal to our spa and our products.” Recycling is one of the easiest ways to show the earth some love, especially in a spa environment. But many choose not to go to the trouble it can take to properly dispose of products and their corresponding containers. As a green leader in your community,

“We offer discounts to clients who bring their empty retail products back to the spa for refills.” and use its products. One criterion for qualification is a strong recycling philosophy. ESSpa Kosmetika Skin Care ( in Pittsburgh belongs to the program and takes that aspect seriously. “We offer discounts to clients who bring their empty retail products back to the


February 2010

you can set an example by following some of these suggestions, and continue to attract the business of likeminded individuals in the process.

Kimiko L. Martinez, a former DAYSPA associate editor, lives as sustainably as possible in Long Beach, California.

Reproduced with permission from DAYSPA magazine. ©2010 by Creative Age Publications. All rights reserved.

A Higher Purpose  

Once you’re done with the products in your spa, consider the alternatives to simply throwing them away.