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Is Green the New Black?

By Melinda Taschetta-Millane
Posted: May 23, 2008, from the July 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

On more than one recent occasion, I have heard the phrase “green is the new black.” However, according to Danny Seo, environmental lifestyle expert, “Green is not a trend. It has to be a way of life. It has to be part of your DNA—keep the message as simple as possible, and don’t overeducate. The message needs to be a one-second sound bite—it must answer the question that consumers will pose: What will it do for me? Why should I buy it? What does it do?” Being green, says Seo, is about finding the connection where people finally have their “a-ha” moment, something clicks, and suddenly they “get it.

I heard Seo speak, along with an impressive panel of ecological leaders, at the recent LOHAS 11 Forum held in Marina del Rey, California. I went to this conference because I wanted to learn more about the whole green movement, since it has come to be such a common buzzword in many industries, and also about the LOHAS—an acronym for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability—group as well. I was impressed to learn that the LOHAS marketplace is $228.9 billion strong, focusing on health, the environment, social justice, personal development, sustainable living and yes, even spas. In fact, this year’s forum featured its first Spa Pavilion, sponsored by the International SPA Association (ISPA). The consumers attracted to this market, collectively coined Cultural Creatives, comprise about 30% of the U.S. adult population, or 50 million people.

As these stats prove, more and more people are advocating a more sustainable lifestyle, as are many businesses—including spas. The Spa at Mohonk Mountain House was designed with efficiency in mind. The building is environmentally friendly in its use of a geothermal heating and cooling system, as well as recycled and recyclable materials. Geothermal systems use the constant temperature of the Earth to heat and cool with remarkable efficiency; this type of system is very quiet and produces no on-site emissions. A “green” sod roof has been used on one section of the building, creating natural insulation and blending into the surroundings. The Rancho La Puerta resort and spa in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico, has been run with green principles for more than 65 years. At The Crossings in Austin, Texas, the architectural design employs a variety of indigenous materials, building shapes, elements, colors, plants and features to create a varied, but cohesive, experience.

Another environmentally friendly spa that follows green building principles is Aveda Fredrics, with locations in Indianapolis and Cincinnati. The design of its Indianapolis location began and ended with the environment and its inhabitants in mind. Its designers were charged with seeking out materials both eco-friendly and friendly to the end-user of the space, which included recycled materials or materials that are recyclable or manufactured with environmentally friendly, sustainable materials. Skin Inc. magazine currently is running a four-part series on Sustainability by Aveda Fredric’s founder and president, Frederic Holzberger. The first installment of this series ran in the June 2007 issue, with articles following in the August, October and December issues.

So, is green the new black? For some, yes. For others, it’s merely a sustainable way of life.