Ten ways to work more sustainably – Part one

by | 28 Mar 2022

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Being kinder to the planet isn’t something you can take or leave, it’s something we all need to work towards.Emily McTavish, Schwarzkopf Professional UK care and styling brand manager

It’s time to face facts – the hair industry has a BIG problem when it comes to its impact on the planet. From packaging and colour waste, to rubbish management and recycling, we could all do with improving our eco credentials for the greater good. Clients are watching closely too, with a growing number taking their business to salons where they can see staff thinking of the environment in the way they work.

We know it’s a big ask, so if it sounds intimidating and you’re not sure where to start, we have just what you need. Get started on your greener salon path with our ten point plan, in partnership with Schwarzkopf Professional Bonacure Clean Performance…

STEP ONE: ASSESS WHAT YOU’RE USING

Exterior shot of Ora Hair salon in Banstead
Pictured: Ora Hair, Banstead
Begin by re-assessing your use of resources and materials. Water waste is a growing issue and you can reduce your usage with a simple change to your basins. “Fit green shower heads and don’t run water unnecessarily,” insists Lisa Phillips, owner of Ora Hair in Banstead.

You can save money and the environment by taking a look at your energy consumption as well. Switching to a provider that uses sustainable sources – such as Octopus Energy or Bulb – is definitely worth looking into, as is assessing how you bring light into your space.

There’s no magic bullet, but small decisions do accumulate. “Reducing waste is key to becoming more sustainable,” explains Dr Elmar Mussenbrock, director of sustainability for Kao Salon Global.

 “Because what has not been used will not turn into waste and therefore cannot cause harm to our environment.” Technology such as Vish can help cut down on wasted colour, and save you money in the meantime, too.
Maxwell Oakley and Luke Davies set up barber shop Supply 91 in London to make a difference. “We genuinely believe that if we all pull together then seemingly small actions can have a large impact. It was vital from the start that we offset our carbon emissions by planting trees, one for every service or treatment,” Maxwell explains.

“At first, customers were surprised, but then said ‘Why not?'” Supply 91 teamed up with Ecologi, which runs UK and international schemes that cost about £6 per tonne of CO2.

Other options include Trees for Life, which supports Scottish rewilding projects and charges £6 per planted tree, and Trees for Cities (£6 per tree, working with schools and community groups for increased education and resilience).

STEP TWO: OFFSET WHAT YOU CAN

Maxwell Oakley and Luke Davies of Supply 91 barber shop
Maxwell Oakley and Luke Davies of Supply 91

STEP THREE: THROW IN THE TOWELS

Scrummi disposable towels
Scrummi eco-friendly, single-use towels

Using disposable towels may seem backward, but ditching drying materials after use is a habit to get into. This is because the energy consumed by washing typical cotton towels is astronomical, and it drives up salon water usage as well.

“Switching to Scrummi towels changed my life,” says Nicola Harrison, owner of The Green Hairdressing Salon in Nottingham. The client experience will be unaffected – these absorbent towels still offer a luxurious feel, made with 100 per cent sustainably sourced plant fibres, and they’re biodegradable.

Making such a small change can have a huge impact; it’s estimated switching to Scrummi saves 1,400kg (aka 1.4 tonnes!) of CO2 emissions each year.

Professor Denise Baden of the Southampton Business School is behind the Eco Hair and Beauty Project to encourage hairdressers to embrace sustainability. “Hairdressers are in a unique position to combat climate change,” she explains.

There’s a virtual training programme for salons and individual stylists that takes just 45 minutes to complete, and highlights where you can save time, water, energy – and money – with simple adjustments. You receive an online Sustainable Salon or Stylist certification that you can display for clients – check out ecohairandbeauty.com

STEP FOUR: GET CERTIFIED

Hair by Anne Veck
Hair by Anne Veck

Keith Mellen and Anne Veck – winners of the first Most Wanted Sustainability Hero award – share their Salon Re:Source with other salons for free. It’s a guide designed to help you move towards becoming more sustainable and ethical, with a clever toolkit to download.

STEP FIVE: REUSE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN

The interior of BE Ironbridge salon
BE Ironbridge, Telford
Trying to unlearn the habits of our throwaway culture is tricky, but makes a huge impact on the environmental damage we cause. Upcycling furniture and eliminating single-use items where possible are great steps to take – and help you save money.

When the 2021 It List Entrepreneur Brooke Evans designed her salon, BE Ironbridge, the key focus was to incorporate as many recycled and eco-friendly elements as possible. The salon is heavily insulated to reduce heating costs, and hot water is supplied by an AirSource heat pump that creates energy from fresh air.

“For every 6kW of energy we use, just 1kW is paid for, saving money and helping to protect the environment,” she explains. Ceiling fans have been added that push hot air down to warm the whole building.

Brooke used various sources to furnish her salon, creating a truly unique finish: lights and lamps were created from old Bakelite hairdryers; second-hand chairs and sofas reupholstered by a local firm; a reception desk created from locally-sourced Broseley bricks. “For me, it was a case of knowing I was doing the best I could to be greener,” she explains. “Once you outlay some of the larger costs you are also financially better off.”

Boost your green rating even further – Check out steps six to ten >

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