How Green is My Conscience
March 17, 2008

I like to think I'm pretty environmentally minded. I recycle, I use those new light bulbs that are a bitch to buy cheap, and an even bigger, more dangerous bitch to clean up if you break them all over your floor; I've resisted using AC in San Francisco even when the city sweats 99 for seven days straight; I drive a Prius; and I do my personal best to eat local. So while I'm not 100% pure green, I'm at least a sort of olive or spring green. (Which is maybe a new color they should add to this box. You know, for the child who doesn't want to be marked by the color of their skin, but by the contents of their environmental belief system.)

The thing is, it's highly unlikely that I will ever be 100% pure green, because there are simply some things I draw the line at as being too, well, icky. Like the bathroom behavior rhyme, "If it's yellow let it mellow," etc. and resisting showers and using only natural deodorant and pretty much everything that guy is doing in Manhattan without toilet paper. (Look, my sweat is natural, right? I need something unnatural to combat it, 'kay?) Finally, I definitely draw the line at bathing in mulch and eating things that have grown out of my own pee.

The March issue of Sunset blurbs a spa in Sonoma County where you can "bury yourself under a huge mound of fragrant, fermenting mulch." Words I don't ever want to hear at a spa? "Fermenting" and "huge mound." Sure, the mulch is made up of ground cedar and rice bran -- two things you might be comfortable with in a spa, since cedar smells nice and rice brain is a popular beauty product -- but added to the fermenting mound piled on your naked body are also the nebulous "plant enzymes."

It only gets worse for me when the blurb goes on to say that "the mixture heats naturally." I can't quite explain it, but I'm suspicious of things that "heat naturally." Like, those hot springs that are said to be so relaxing. If you are lucky enough to have an olfactory disorder when you braise yourself in one.

Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary also employs busy, wriggly red worms to compost all their paper -- I guess they call it "global worming," which is cute if you've never had a dog -- and uses the result to fertilize their gardens. I'm sure it's all very admirable and stuff, but all I'd be thinking about while trying to relax under my huge mound of self-heating, fermenting, plant manure is, "I sure hope they didn't mix those two things up."

Now, I can see that this whole "treatment" might appeal to some and make them feel connected to biorhythms of the earth, as well as instill in them a sense of smug greeniness, but it's just not for me. I go to a spa to be indulged, to escape the worries of global warming, the high price of gas, and my own environmental inadequacies -- I don't go there to be buried in them.

But hey, if it sounds like your bag of worms, the treatment starts at $80 for 1 1/2 fermenting hours.

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