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Interview with the founders of the Sustainable Spa Association

Sustainable Spa Association Founders

The Sustainable Spa Association is a not-for-profit organisation launched in 2019 by Directors, Lucy Brialey and Rob Cooper. It works with spa destinations to reduce the impact of their daily operations on environmental issues and helps communities affected by environmental damage. Here, Directors Lucy and Rob tell us more about what they do and why they do it…

Tell us about your background?

Lucy: I have 23 years of experience in spa operations, which has given me an insight into global spa culture, products and services. Knowing the requirements of the day-to-day running of a spa and having seen first hand the consumer and business impact that it can have on the environment, I have long had a keen interest in mitigating against the environmental impact of the industry. I have also studied sustainability in order to increase my knowledge of where improvements can be made.

Rob: I am Managing Director of Scrummi, the sustainable textile brand which is changing the way beauty businesses think about laundry. I founded Scrummi in 2009 and today brands including Champneys, Elemis, Clarins, Eden Hall and Titanic Spa use our biodegradable single-use products to reduce laundry by up to 90%. In 2019 Scrummi won the German Wellness Association’s Green Innovation Award, which we are immensely of. My passion continues to be helping businesses successfully implement eco friendly and profitable practices, as well as overcoming the ‘greenwashing’ trend which creates so much confusion in the beauty industry.

Where did the Sustainable Spa Association idea come from?

We recognised that there is a massive movement in the spa industry towards sustainability and that many spas want to do more to help the environment. The challenge for spa businesses is where do we go for quality information and advice? There is so much conflicting information available, and then there’s the challenge of how we implement environmental initiatives when we have busy, full time jobs as well! Our idea was to be a one stop source of quality, verified information and help, which makes sustainability a fun, pleasurable project for spas and their employees.

Both of us, in business and our personal lives, have been actively conscious about environmental issues. We have both have seen the spa industry develop over the years and have recognised the problems that spa operators face in being able to make healthy environmental choices that are cost effective, whilst at the same time being able to provide the luxury and results their guests want.

With no central resource and little education on what steps spas can take, sustainability has been seen as either insurmountable, time consuming or unachievable. The Sustainable Spa Association has been formed to help spa operators recognise the incremental steps they can take in a guided way.

Profit from the organisation will be used to further develop education and easy implementation over the years to come as well. So that the spa industry as a whole can be seen to be the active, environmentally friendly and truly healthy industry it should be.

What exactly do you do?

The Sustainable Spa Association is a not-for-profit organisation formed with the purpose to assist spa businesses in implementing successful and profitable, long-term sustainability strategies.

We work with spa operators to reduce the environmental impact of their daily spa operations.

Many businesses want to be more eco conscious, coupled with consumer demand for the choice to spend their time and money ethically. Many operating spas see it as confusing, expensive and difficult to implement without advice and planning from a reputable source.

We provide an independent service, guiding operators and providing them with the tools and plans for continuous improvement.

How do you support spas to make eco friendly decisions?

The Sustainable Spa Association assists in reducing a spa’s environmental impact through a range of self-assessment tools, practical advice and education from within and outside the spa world.

We guide spas on a facilitated journey to take practical steps towards improving their initial assessment scores and continually measure and feedback on their sustainability performance.

How would you like to see the spa industry progress?

Spas are a luxury we all love, but we need to recognise the environmental impact of our business in terms of energy usage and pollution.

Our aim is to help spas become as green as possible so that our industry’s environmental footprint is minimal, whilst continuing to provide amazing wellbeing experiences.

The spa industry essentially promotes health and wellbeing on an individual level for its customers. Consumer consciousness on environmental matters is increasing at a rapid pace with many individuals realise that the steps they take day-to-day may be improving their sense of wellbeing but in turn having an impact on the wellbeing of the planet.

Businesses across many industries are taking steps to address their impact. In previous years the spa industry has been focused on the most luxurious offerings and facilities for its customers and has addressed this by an ever increasing use of water, heat and waste and chemicals.

There are alternative solutions to the current practices, and our aim is to be a go-to resource for spa operators to easily access this information and make healthier choices. We would like to see the spa industry become recognised leaders in environmental issues.

What sustainable choices can spa goers make so their wellbeing and spa days are more eco friendly?

We believe that a spa break should be relaxing and stress free. This means that the spa visitor should not have to consciously modify their behaviour during their break as this detracts from the experience. Our organisation takes that concern away from the consumer as they can be confident that spas carrying the Sustainable Spa Association accreditation are actively taking steps to reduce their environmental impact. Travel has a huge impact on the environment, and we would encourage visitors to use local spas and travel by sustainable transport methods.

What’s your favourite sustainable spa destination to date?

Bedruthan Hotel and Spa in Cornwall and South Lodge in West Sussex have both lead the way and have made conscious changes to provide a high level of environmental integrity in the daily operations.


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