Sustainability in the Walon: we're all in This Together

Published 26th Apr 2023 by Josie Jackson
In an industry which relies heavily on utilities such as water, heating and electricity – along with the use of various consumable products – helping your salon achieve sustainable status can feel like an impossible challenge. However, by taking a holistic approach, the challenge might not be as tough as you think. By ensuring that each member of your team is empowered to help, small changes can boost sustainability in your salon - and we're here to tell you how.

Salon Owner

It’s often said in business that culture starts at the top, so if you’re looking to encourage sustainability in your salon, then as an owner you’ll need to practice what you preach. Stephen Buller and Anita Rice, Co-Founders of Buller and Rice, are a perfect example of this, with Stephen explaining that they use their position to lead the conversation around sustainability with their staff, who in turn are each given different responsibilities. He adds: “Our team are the core of our salon and are as passionate about our values as we are. Each staff role allows them to take part in how we reduce waste and maintain our salon’s sustainability.” Sustainability is at the heart of Buller and Rice, with Stephen explaining: “The very core of curating this salon was to have a business dedicated to sustainability. This is not an ethos we introduced over time; we started with this very message to take steps to constantly further and elevate our environmental credentials.” However, one specific way Salon Owners can contribute to the business’ environmental goals is by carefully selecting furniture – something that Olivia Crighton, Founder and Director of Glasshouse Salon, prioritised. She says: “When we moved location in 2021, my designer and I worked to ensure all elements had been carefully considered, including using innovative reclaimed and recycled materials.” Another option for sustainable salon furniture is Takara Belmont, whose products are crafted with longevity in mind while also integrating new technologies to reduce energy consumption. [caption id="attachment_95931" align="alignnone" width="700"]sustainability salon Glasshouse Salon[/caption] It is worth keeping in mind that it is possible to work on your sustainability at any stage of your salon journey, and ensuring your whole team is onboard with the process can make the transition much easier. Olivia adds: “My advice for those looking to make their business more sustainable is to research and really scrutinise all the details - it can be as simple as changing up the drinks menu to include local brands, to big picture things like combatting colour waste. It's about being creative and taking the time to put best practices in place that will make all the difference long term.” Keep reading to uncover how you can empower your team to help you go green.

Salon Manager

Supporting the day-to-day running of the business, Salon Managers are in a prime position to make sustainable switches in the salon, for example, ensuring you are getting the best deal on your energy contract. Did you know that the NHBF (National Hair & Beauty Federation) recently formed a partnership with leading energy consultancy, Direct Business Solutions? Through this new service, the NHBF can help you score a great price on your utilities while ensuring you are matched with the best supplier to address your business’ needs. Salon Managers can also ensure staff are disposing of waste by partnering with initiatives such as Green Salon Collective, who have made it their mission to recycle the unrecyclable, thanks to their easy-to-use return scheme. As a bonus, they even help you earn money while using the scheme thanks to a ‘green fee’. This is where salons ask clients to pay a discretionary £1-2 fee on each visit to offset the cost of recycling. According to GSC, most salons profit from this system, or are cost-neutral at worst – so what have you got to lose? sustainability salon

 Stylist

Stylists are best placed to encourage clients to share in the salon’s sustainable ethos, and one way this can be achieved is through responsible product recommendations. If you’re already using sustainable products in your appointments, then take a moment to educate your clients on the benefits – both to their hair and the environment. Some great brands include Davines, Maria Nila and Oway. In addition to offering conscious products, brands such as these also champion social-environmental initiatives, such as Davines’ We Sustain Beauty – a movement that aims to take climate action by raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity and regenerative organic agriculture on a global scale – and Maria Nila’s partnership with Plan Vivo – which sees them helping farmers plant trees in Central America, in an effort to provide climate compensated packaging. If you’re sharing these recommendations with clients, then you want to be confident that you’re doing your part, too. Leaf Scissors aim to produce and source the highest quality hairdressing tools while constantly looking for ways to make their business more sustainable – in turn allowing you to be more sustainable. They’re also proud to plant at least 10 trees for each pair of scissors sold – since they were founded in 2019, they’ve planted 104,472.

 Colourist 

When it comes to consumables in salons, one of the prime culprits of waste is often colour. Joshua Miller, Joint MD at Charlie Miller, Edinburgh, explains that to try and combat this waste, they began using hair colour management software Vish. Joshua shares: “The data we got from Vish revealed that many of our younger stylists were mixing up more colour than the more experienced ones; after further investigation, we discovered they did it so they didn’t run late if they had to stop to mix up more colour. Having this data has allowed us to set clear guidelines on colour usage and monitor it all. The amount of data is fantastic – as long as it’s used positively.” In line with Joshua’s advice, HJ recommends using this data to help guide your team towards making better choices, rather than criticising their current practices. Salons can also reduce colour-related waste by partnering with Green Salon Collective, who provide a service to wash and prepare colour tubes and used foil, ready for recycling. Aside from waste, salons can also boost their environmental credentials by selecting colour that has been made using sustainable methods. Abbey Hudson, Colour Director at Glasshouse Salon, shares: “I am proud to work with Organic Colour Systems, which is manufactured locally in the New Forest and formulated with Soil Association certified organic ingredients. Our hair colour contains no ammonia, resorcinol or parabens and the lowest possible about of PPD (a petroleum derivative) – plus the gel-based colour comes in large, 100% recyclable bottles made from post-consumer waste recycled plastic.”

Salon Assistant

At sustainable salon chain Blue Tit, staff are encouraged to get involved and offer new ideas, with Founder Matthew Gebbie explaining: “One of our assistants recently mentioned a company that could help us reduce our waste further, which made us realise this is 100% something we need to be looking into, supporting and gaining more knowledge about. As a result, we are now in conversation with the company.” Plus, in addition to taking action in response to staff concerns, Blue Tit also ensure all team members’ efforts are recognised by giving a monthly shout-out on B-Corp actions achieved by each salon. Meanwhile, Juniors at Buller and Rice help to collect hair clippings, which are repurposed by Green Salon Collective, who they partner with, into cushions which help absorb oil spills in the ocean.

Front of House and Operations

At both Buller and Rice and Blue Tit, Front of House staff play a key role in the salons’ sustainable efforts, taking care of their refill bars – where consumers can bring any empty pot, bottle, tube or tub into the salon to be refilled with shampoo, conditioner and other selected haircare. Glasshouse Salon also offer a refill service, where customers can bring in empty Oway and OSC bottles to refill, while receiving a 10% discount – further incentivising customers to make the sustainable switch.   There are so many ways that you can boost your business' sustainability credentials, meaning that you can choose to make the changes that are best suited to your salon – and by getting the whole team involved, the transition might be smoother than you thought. It's Sustainability Week here at HJ, so if you're looking for more lovely content like this, why not check out our schedule? 
Josie Jackson

Josie Jackson

Published 26th Apr 2023

Josie supports the team with content for the print magazine, website and social media channels at HJ. Having grown up in a salon environment (thanks to her hairdresser mum) and even working as a Saturday girl before getting her degree in English Literature, Josie feels right at home in the industry. Although she’s experimented with a few creative colour looks in the past, she always comes back to blonde, and loves all things hydrating and bond building.

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