As massage therapists, our clients often look to us for simple ways to improve and maintain their health. Massage therapy could be thought of as a collection of non-invasive, non-toxic techniques and tools that help to reduce blood pressure, increase circulation and improve muscle tone. Our needs as professionals are few. All that is required at the very basic level is a trained pair of hands and a body to work on. The next step up would perhaps include a good quality massage table, some clean sheets and safe, healthy lubricants. A good location, somewhere to set up, is of course also necessary. It doesn’t get much easier, or greener, than that.
As time goes on, though, we may develop some bad habits, or not look into newer, more environmentally friendly ways of doing things. Most, if not all, of us can do better. We can make our practices healthier for ourselves and for our clients and, in turn, help the earth.
Here are ten simple ways to make your home and your practice a place that is not only safe and healthy for you, but also has a positive effect on the environment.
- Drive Less – If possible, use public transportation, or if your office is close enough, walk or ride a bicycle to your practice. You might want to consider the benefits of working out of your home and eliminate commuting all together. There are no motorized vehicles that are totally non-polluting. Even the newer hybrid cars use some gasoline, and a totally electric car still uses unhealthy materials to produce electricity and batteries.
- Adjust Your Thermostat – By lowering your thermostat by a few degrees in the winter months and raising it in the summer, you will not only reduce the use of energy that is used to produce it, but could also see a savings of 25 to 30 percent on your heating and air-conditioning bills. Remember to lower your thermostat as well during times you are not using your office, such as overnight or while on vacation.
- Switch to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs or LED’s (Light Emitting Diodes) – Consider using these instead of incandescent bulbs at your desk or in your waiting room. They last longer and are more efficient than incandescent bulbs, resulting in the use of between 30 and 75 percent less electricity. If you are concerned about the harshness of the light, soften it with warm colored lampshades. Also, remember to turn off any lights in unoccupied rooms.
- Buy in Bulk – Purchasing often used items in larger containers will save on packaging as well as cost. Massage oils, lotions and creams can be bought in large quantity and your small bottles can be refilled.
- Use Environmentally Friendly Cleaners – Massage offices need to be clean, but that doesn’t mean having to use harsh or toxic chemicals. Many stores now carry gentle but efficient cleaning products. Going back to basics is often the best and there are many books and websites offering easy recipes for creating your own cleaning materials.
- Use Cloth Bags Instead of Paper or Plastic – Using and reusing cloth bags for shopping ends the debate on paper vs. plastic when it comes to groceries or other products you purchase. Cloth bags are stronger, usually hold more and nothing new is added to landfills.
- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – Reducing your consumption of one-use items such as disposable razors, plastic water bottles and overly packaged food, reusing what you already have on hand like glass containers, and recycling things made of paper, plastic and metal items helps to lighten the load on local landfills.
- Visit Your Local Library – By taking advantage of the library you can reduce the number of magazines you buy or subscribe to and minimize the number of books you buy. This helps to save valuable trees, which in turn helps wildlife to survive.
- Buy Organic – As much as possible eat organic food and use organic materials, such as oils and sheets in your practice. Crops grown using pesticides have been shown to have negative health effects including damage to the nervous system, cancer and birth defects. Growing crops organically decreases this risk not only for the consumer but also farmers and animals.
- Support Local Vendors – By shopping locally, especially at farmer’s markets or small businesses, you help lower your own fuel consumption as well as reduce the amount of energy it takes to transport goods across the country. Shopping within your community also helps the local economy, providing jobs close to home and resulting in less gas consumption.
Every day, in both large and small ways, we can help to make our offices and homes more eco-friendly. Something as simple as using essential oils instead of commercial air fresheners can reduce allergic reactions and may even help to alleviate the symptoms of asthma or other respiratory problems. Walking short distances instead of driving not only reduces air pollution, but it also gives our body exercise, allows us to slow down and we may see the world around us in new ways.
Setting good examples and letting our clients know that we care about the environment shows we care about their health and safety as well.
Bond, Annie, Home Enlightenment: Practical, Earth-Friendly Advice for Creating a Nurturing, Healthy, Toxin Free Home and Lifestyle, Rodale Books, September 2005.
www.care2.com, Green Living, Care2, 2008.
www.earthshare.org, Workplace Campaigns, EarthShare, Spring 2007.
www.epa.gov, Pollution Prevention and Recycling, Environmental Protection Agency, 2008.
www.greenbiz.com, Small Business, GreenBiz.Com, 2008.
www.greenthislife.com, A Bright Idea: Eco Conscious Lighting, Blake Frino, Green This Life, December 2008.
www.massagemag.com, How Green is Your Massage Practice?, Karen Menehan, Massage Magazine, March 2008.
www.amtamassage.com/mtj, Going Green, Elizabeth Barker, Massage Therapy Journal, Fall 2007.