Transformations feel good; we know it because the beauty industry is built on makeovers that put smiles on guests’ faces. But the prospect of change can also be intimidating, especially when it is as momentous as trying to build a more environmentally friendly business. Few salons can just shut up shop, find capital for a complete remodel, swap suppliers and convince team and guests all in one go. But the headlines remind us that we all need to take responsibility to stop catastrophic climate change. And Sustain Beauty Co is here to remind you that it’s ok to take it one step at a time.
Making small adjustments that move the business, guests and team towards sustainability without turning it into a drama is, well, more sustainable. Salons getting started often think of the classic principle of the three R’s – REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE. Both familiar and simplistic, considering these three principles is a way to get started in examining your footprint. It begins with REDUCING what we consume. It may seem like a big ask, but the bonus is lower costs to the business.
REDUCE Energy: Cut energy consumption and you cut your energy bills, which is becoming increasingly expensive in many areas. This is both the most obvious area to cut back, but also one of the hardest as it is an ongoing process. The good news is that there are a lot of little things you can do that add up to a big difference. Start with replacing bulbs with LED, installing automated lights that turn off when no one is in the room, and thermostats on timers. Look for new technology and discuss opportunities for building upgrades with your landlord. Consider your technology and switch to laptops that don’t need to remain plugged in, or iPads. Appliances are big offenders in energy consumption, but they are big capital investments so until they are absolutely beyond repair, change up how you use them. For example, stop tumble drying your towels. Better still, jettison the whole laundry system and buy into the eco Scrummi compostable towel method. The lifecycle of a Scrummi from manufacture to compost bin is less polluting than laundering a single cotton towel.
REDUCE Water: H2O is becoming the new gold standard and we really need to get better at conserving it. Installing water-saving devices is essential and can also pay off in tax write-offs if not in outright cost saving if you are in an area with increasingly expensive water rates. Install new water-efficient faucets and toilets, certified by Watersense, and if that isn’t in the budget, you can put a brick inside the tank so it uses less. Always fix leaks quickly. Drips may not sound like a lot, but can add up to over a gallon a day in wastage. Look to swap out the showerheads in your basin for Ecoheads, which reduce both water and energy usage by up to 65%, while actually beefing up the pressure.
REDUCE Pollution: Beauty uses lots of chemicals but it’s essential to use what is needed to get excellent results. Surprisingly, studies have shown that’s about 40% less than the average salon actually uses. Introducing a color management system like Vish will cut down on excessive dispensing of color that means product is left over in the bowl or over-applied to the hair. And this will also help REDUCE inventory costs. And any waste that can’t be avoided should be disposed of responsibly by teaming up with Green Circle Salons.
REDUCE Waste: Buying less means there is less to be removed by your waste disposal company, which is always a plus. Stop serving any single-use plastic such as bottled water or disposable cups. Introduce a refilling station where guests can fill up their favorite products, and supersize your own product system so you have fewer bottles to recycle. Let go of aluminum foils, which take 500 years to degrade, and adopt alternatives such as Paper Not Foil, which are reusable and made from building rubble rather than logged trees. Encourage your team to rethink what they bring to the salon, such as food wrappings and ziplocks that end up in your waste bin. But the real experts on trash talk is Green Circle Salons who will help find local solutions to your waste removal and take everything else to make sure it is repurposed or disposed of in a sustainable way.
It’s important to remember that the first R isn’t about not using what you need, it’s about being conscious of unnecessary use. This is also simply good business. If you don’t use as much and create the same (or better) results, you spend less and profit more. Reducing unnecessary consumption is the first and most important step towards sustainability, and it’s not difficult or costly. It’s good for you, your team will love the journey, and the planet will stay as beautiful as your clients.
Read the other articles in the 3Rs Series.
About SBCo: Sustain Beauty Co was born with the mission to help identify authentic, credible and environmentally responsible brands that put stylists at the forefront of their purpose. All Sustain Beauty Co products must: 1) Reduce the footprint of consumables in our industry. 2) Empower artists to create beauty responsibly. 3) Protect the stylist and the environment equally. 4) Come from ethical sources and responsible manufacturing facilities. Going ‘green’ shouldn’t sacrifice quality, and the professional beauty industry should have more options to be sustainably beautiful.
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