According to a study done by Rubicon, in the U.S. we throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour — about 42,000 per minute, or about 695 per second. U.S. businesses use around 21 million tons of paper every year. Although 75 percent of America’s waste is recyclable, only around 30 percent of it is recycled.
These facts are shocking, but there are many people and businesses fighting these statistics across the nation. One example is Chelsea Berg, the owner of The Green Yogi in Manhattan Beach, California. Every aspect of Berg’s business is handled with the environment in mind. In fact, 100 percent of the studio’s waste is recyclable.
While it may be easy to assume it is more expensive to be an eco-friendly studio space, as many natural products lean toward the expensive side, Berg explained there are a lot of cheap options for studio owners to consider to make their space more environmentally friendly.
The first place Berg suggested starting is your front desk. The Green Yogi is a completely cashless studio, and she suggested studios across the nation begin to consider this no-cost option. Because of her limited front desk staff, Berg explained it is actually more expensive for the studio to operate with cash.
“Interestingly, people never factor in their own time or labor costs when they are doing calculations of bottom line expenditures,” said Berg. “If you go through and do the calculations, I am spending half an hour a day dealing with cash at the bank or counting a drawer, which is $7 a day if you go by our minimum wage scale. Streamlining the processes and depending on a system like MINDBODY that you are already paying for, should be reason enough to cut out paper.”
Jessica Molleur, the founder of OMBE Center in Boston, Massachusetts, also knew from the launch of her business she only wanted to be in this industry if she could do it with the environment in mind. And while they aren’t a cashless studio, she found an answer to how to become more eco-friendly when dealing with transactions made between the students and front desk.
“There have been a couple studies done showing workers exposed to retail paper have really high levels of BPA in their bloodstream,” said Molleur. “This is just from incidental contact. One of the first major retailers to battle this was Whole Foods, which uses FSC-certified paper. We are a small business, so it was a bit more difficult to find receipt paper that is BPA-free. But using it was important to us as it would have a huge impact on everyone who came in contact with it.”
On top of going cashless, studios can create a more green space simply by monitoring the products used in the studio. Are they renewable or can you recycle them? Start small and swap out a few items until eventually the majority of products used are eco-friendly.
“We encourage people to put their name on the cups we use for water, so they can keep theirs here to use class after class,” said Berg. “We only clean with rags we can wash. Our toilet paper is from recycled paper. We don’t have anything we can’t recycle, and we keep our recycling bins out front so our students see them each day as a reminder.”
Even the products you carry in your retail section can have an impact on the environment. The Green Yogi goes as far as selling candles in its store that are reusable. The candles are essential oil and coconut oil based, so when it is done burning you can freeze it and chip off the excess coconut oil to use as moisturizer.
Berg suggested using this same strategy with other products you sell. Keep a pulse on what can be impactful to the environment, and what difference you and your studio can make based on purchases at your retail store.
“Do your research and know what you are profiting from in your studio,” said Berg. “Those are expenditures you are buying anyway. The unfortunate truth is not everyone is going to spend the extra money to buy eco-friendly products, so going local is a good solution to battle the cost of large, eco-friendly companies.”
For studios that haven’t considered going green, a simple place to start is with recycling. While many cities don’t have regular recycling services, Molleur explained if you start asking around, you can probably find a nearby company willing to recycle your materials for you.
“With the building we are in, the city doesn’t offer recycling services to businesses, so we contacted all the business owners in the building and it turned out everyone had the same issues,” said Molleur. “Everyone was interested in recycling, so we got together and pooled our resources and we had a recycling company that offered to compost things come to the building. That was very cost effective. You probably aren’t the only business in your area that has thought about this.”