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Is an Eco-Friendly Massage Practice Worth the Cost?

Close-up of an essential oil bottle, surrounded by pink petals. The text on the image says An eco-friendly massage practice - is it worth the cost?
Essential oils are a potent, naturally-sourced addition to a massage therapy practice

Massage therapists are trained to recognize the systems of the human body and how they work together. We know, for instance, that muscles, tendons, bones and fascia make up the musculo-skeletal system. But have you also given thought to how our bodies interact with the environment? From the potential effect of substances on our own clients, to the impact of our product choices on the environment, there are plenty of reasons for developing an eco-friendly practice. 

As providers of a personal service, massage therapists in general have a small environmental footprint. Clients come to receive a massage, and to provide that service we will use some supplies, such as oils, linens, and cleaning products. Typically, the client goes home with only a relaxed glow and a booking for their next appointment. We aren’t adding a great deal to the mountains of waste our society generates.
But what about the products that you use in your practice?  What decisions do you make about the way your studio is built and furnished? In this case, you can choose to use eco-friendly disposable and durable products.

Eco-Friendly Building Materials

Natural fiber flooring: Choose hardwood, cork, bamboo, or sisal.  Prices can vary widely, but it beats dusty synthetic carpet or the off-gassing compounds of vinyl flooring.
Low VOC paint: Milk paint, chalk paint, or other products that are low odor and not highly processed can be much easier on your clients’ breathing, and on the environment as well.
Lighting: LED lights are quickly coming down in price, and are available in a range of warm colours. Compact flourescent bulbs are more efficient than incandescent lights, but are difficult to dispose of, difficult to dim, and are “cold” on the light spectrum.

Eco-Friendly Supplies

Oils: Choose organic or sustainable base massage oils from natural sources, and use pure plant essential oils instead of synthetic perfumes.  Not only are these better for your clients’ health, it increases the demand for pesticide-free crops. One product where you could choose organic or “regular” oil is grapeseed oil. It’s a byproduct of the wine industry, and makes an excellent base massage oil. Even if you can’t afford the organic oil, you are repurposing what would otherwise go to waste. In WellSpring classes, we spend time discussing base oils, and other excellent choices are jojoba, avocado and olive oils.
Linens: Cotton is notorious for being a very pesticide-heavy product, but other options are available. You could pay more for organic cotton, or try another cloth fiber. For instance, bamboo grows quickly without pesticides, and its fabric is very soft to the touch.
Waxes: Some massage therapists offer hot wax treatments to alleviate muscle and joint pain. Instead of using paraffin, which is a petroleum product, you could use soy wax or beeswax.
Cleaning Products: Launder your linens in unscented, and biodegradable cleaners – some practitioners use natural soaps, vinegar, laundry soda and essential oils. You can use these products or essential oil-based commercial cleansers for keeping the studio clean, as well.
Natural and organic products are a great fit with the holistic philosophy of a massage therapy practice. Instead of using chemicals, massage therapists use natural healing through touch and stretching. We leverage the energy of the body to heal and rejuvenate itself. It makes sense, then, to extend that philosophy to our environment, too. Massage therapy classes at WellSpring, such as Swedish Massage, Reflexology, Hot Stone, Joint & Stretch among many others, focus on these natural healing techniques and hands-on practice. It’s an excellent, greener alternative to chemical treatments for many ailments, from seasonal allergies to pregnancy pain.
Developing an eco-friendly massage practice is well worth the cost, both in terms of walking your talk, and giving your clients the best. You may even find that it costs less than you think, and attracts more clients to your business.