Tools for Implementing Sustainable Business Practices with Charné le Roux

One on One: Charne Le Roux
Le Roux sat down with WellSpa 360 to discuss her tools for implementing sustainable business practices, how she practices self-care without compromising and more.
Photo courtesy of Charne Le Roux

When you want to speak to a true pioneer in spa sustainability, Charné le Roux, sustainability expert and GSN Planet board member, is the top source for the job. The industry veteran, who surprisingly started her career as a commercial lawyer, has set the gold standard for spa professionals interested in making their practices eco-friendly. Le Roux sat down with WellSpa 360 to discuss her tools for implementing sustainable business practices, how she practices self-care without compromising and more.

What was your first job in spa and wellness?

I have to give some context here. I started my career as a commercial lawyer, and it was only after practicing law for many years that I decided to combine my business skills with my love for the land and organic agriculture, to create a dedicated organic spa. It was the first comprehensive sustainable spa in Africa and the recipient of a number of awards recognizing our work to conserve and protect our environment and local communities.

What is your favorite memory of your time working in this industry?

As a spa owner, my favorite memory was seeing the almost immediate, positive effect that our waste reduction policies, green building, natural products and social programs had on our staff, our guests, the small town where the spa was based and also the land around us.

What do you love about spa and wellness?

Our industry is in the remarkable position of being able to create true well-being for all living beings and natural systems, and many spas are doing that already.

What new wellness trends do you find most exciting?

The growing awareness and implementation of sustainable design and building principles. I also love the rise of community bathing and other water-based therapies that rely on the restorative qualities of social interaction.

What’s the first thing you do after a long day at work?

Go for a swim or get my hands dirty in our veggie garden!

Related: 4 Green Spa Design Trends from Sustainability Experts

What’s your favorite wellness treatment to receive?

I enjoy touch therapies the most, and reflexology has been a longstanding favorite. The human touch can be transformative.

What’s your greatest accomplishment?

My successes have rarely been mine exclusively; they result from collaborative efforts. More recently, I have been able to use my skills to create meaningful tools, such as the GSN Greenspa Calculator, which allow spas to advance and implement their sustainability objectives. This has made me very proud.

What advice do you have for someone just getting started in the industry?

Be extraordinary in everything you do, cultivate a good understanding of the relationship between all living beings and natural systems, and innovate around challenges.

What’s one thing you can’t leave the house without?

My minimalist approach—I do not own a handbag for example—and trademark last-minute rush to get going has often caused me to leave home without my wallet, or phone or water bottle, so I have learned to adapt without most things.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Dark chocolate and a scary movie, but I don’t feel guilty about them at all!

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the perfect systems of our natural world. Once, when watching swallows getting ready to travel north to warmer parts, I noticed them sitting tightly together on a telephone line. Whenever another swallow came flying in, often aiming for the middle of the line, I was delighted to see all the swallows shuffling sideways to make space. Creating space for others should come just as instinctively for us humans.

What is on your bucket list?

I would like to spend more time learning about the cultures of old and visit faraway historic places. On a different level, I am hoping to advance my skills as paragliding pilot and learn to fly longer distances. It is quite common to be able to reach distances of 200 to 300 miles these days. Imagine being able to fly like that using only the wind!

What's on the horizon for spa sustainability?

To move forward into a regenerative industry, we must be able to measure our impacts. Without measurement, we will not be able to understand where our challenges lie, nor innovate solutions. Sustainability is not just about causing no harm, but also acting wisely in the face of continuous change and adding value to our social and ecological environments.

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