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Continuing our series on how to look after the planet through the 3Rs of the Environment, Valorie Tate from Sustain Beauty Co. looks at REUSE.

The biggest hurdle for many owners looking to recalibrate as a sustainable business is the potential cost. So, it’s a relief to know the second principle of the ‘3Rs of Going Green’ should actually save money. But REUSE  can be tricky, and stepping away from our disposable culture is a challenge. It is so ingrained. We are all guilty of chucking good stuff away without even thinking about it or making decisions based on something being cheaper upfront, rather than having the lowest cost per use. But if you pause a moment and consider the impact of each item’s longevity, we are all better off.

Cut the churn

Glancing around the salon for ways to REUSE is daunting, but not if you get creative – and aren’t we famed for being creative? Look at aluminum foils - one of the trickiest items in a salon: difficult to dispose of, but totally necessary. That is, unless you change to more technical materials such as Paper Not Foil, which can be washed and reused, saving money and diverting hard-to-dispose of refuse from landfill. Another tricky area is retailing - essential to your client and your profitability, but problematic because of plastic. The simple answer is to consider a refilling station, like the guys have at Casa Prana in Wilmington, NC, so clients can reuse their take-home bottles. It’s a brilliant way to reduce waste and it will keep clients coming back to you rather than buying online. And, how about, instead of printing out tons of paper receipts or reminder cards, you swap to chalkboards for promotions, email for receipts and text messages for confirmations?

Tear off the mask. 

Before the pandemic we had already embraced the concept of reusing cotton bags for shopping, ceramic or bamboo cups for our takeaway coffees, metal straws for our cocktails, and waxed wraps for our sandwiches. So why buy medical masks which end up rotting away in our landfill (and they will be there for a while because of the plastic)? Switch to washable ones. They are also so much prettier. Offer branded reusable masks for sale instead of disposable versions when someone forgets.

Focus on longevity.

Shopping around for better quality might initially mean a slightly higher initial cost, but going for something that will last is an economy in the long run. Buy organic cotton t-shirts and blouses that wash better than synthetic materials and so last longer. Invest in shears that align with your principles and quality. Quality steel keeps their edge longer and are well worth the investment, and most companies offer a sharpening service, allowing you to use the same beloved shears for years.

Fix up the fixtures. 

Jump off that treadmill of buying cheap and then trashing when an item breaks down. Look around for some way to get it fixed – even your computer can be reconditioned. Better still, always check before you buy an item that it can be repaired and you get support and warranty. That way you can be confident that if something does go wrong you can get it mended. Many newer companies are offering rental services for furniture so you can invest in trendy fixtures without the high cost and then pass it on to another owner when you need to change.

Reupholster rather than replace.

A busy salon will suffer wear and tear daily, but that doesn’t mean you have to replace big items because they’ve got a little jaded. One of the most expensive investments will be your chairs and beds, but they can be reupholstered and fixed. The Salon Chair Guys in Southern California do an amazing job of refurbishing old chairs, and they have affiliates all around the country doing similar. They also offer eco cleaners that protect your chairs while cleaning.

Valorie Tate and Kelly Manley of Sustain Beauty Co.
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Valorie Tate and Kelly Manley of Sustain Beauty Co.

Go vintage.

They made things to last in the old days, so why not take advantage of that by purchasing second-hand furnishings? If you are getting your desk built from scratch, consider reclaimed timber – it looks very cool – or buy in classic reconditioned chairs for your barbering section. Checking out your local flea market might end up giving you some amazing statement lights or cool art for the walls.

Give it new life.

When you finally have something you don’t need or can’t fix, don’t just send it to landfill – someone, somewhere will value it. So check if the manufacturer or supplier runs a buy-back scheme like ECOHEADS does for its eco showerheads. If not, put it up for sale on eBay, check out local websites such as Freecycle, donate it to a local charity or post it on your local ‘Buy Nothing’ Group. Maybe you can’t reuse it, but someone else could.

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.

Read the other articles in the 3Rs Series: 

REDUCE: Building a Green Salon with the 3Rs

RECYLE: Building a Green Salon with the 3Rs

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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