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Clients are consumers and consumers are increasingly choosing to splash their cash on companies that prioritize sustainability. They want to see their beloved salon making efforts to be more responsible so they have no guilt being loyal. But the move to eco status for beauty businesses rarely happens in one leap. It takes small steps to change processes and attitudes. The first of these is getting waste under control, so we asked Sustainable Mazey, aka Mazey Heydman, owner of Sustain Salon in Oklahoma City and famed ‘dumpster-diver,’ for her top tips.

1. Find Your Guy

"It takes time to understand exactly where your waste goes. I didn’t get it right immediately, and many of my salon-owning friends were the same, which is why I began helping others. I researched all the various companies in my area to find any that could deal with salon waste. In some places, this may mean linking up with a specialist company like Salon Cycle. I do pay for some recycling but there are a lot of options for local recycling that aren’t extra so finding someone local that can process your refuse without transporting may be both more sustainable and a cheaper option, so check out all your local services."

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2. Degrees of Separation

"In this country we actually only recycle about 3% of our waste because most people don’t understand the process. Everything must be separated into categories with bins for the various materials: plastics, paper and cardboard, color and metal. It must also be clean, so unless you're partnering with a salon waste specialist who does it for you,  rinse off residue from all containers, bottles and foils etc. One dirty foil in your local recycling can contaminate the rest and the entire batch will be sent to landfill. And as you are rinsing it anyway, why not switch to a system like Paper Not Foils from Sustain Beauty Co which after rinsing can be reused."

3. Educate Everyone

"Success starts with the team, from the assistants to the receptionists to the managers. Involving them in the process from the beginning will help buy-in and better practices. Recruit and reward committed champions who will be the waste warriors in your salon, not just to correct separation and check for contaminated items, but to reinforce the message of what works and what can ruin it all."

4. Maintain a Careful Eye

"Monitoring your bins is important because sometimes what you're doing doesn't work and you need to recognize it early. When I started, I was putting all my metals together in one bin but when I went to take it to the recycling place, they had me separate my foils from my color tubes from my drink cans because they were all different grades of aluminum. It might not be the same in other areas, but checking up regularly to ensure you haven’t missed something vital or that bad habits have crept in will keep you on the path to sustainability."

5. Buy with Care and Consideration

"Quite a few of the salons I worked with were stunned by the amount of waste they produced when they saw it collected for the first time. They simply didn’t realize how much waste they produced. I don’t buy from certain suppliers because they use too much packaging, and we don’t have any single-use items in the salon. Considering how you will deal with the waste when buying something can lead to new habits. Buying tools and equipment that are repairable and avoiding those guilty of excessive packaging will mean less waste. And it’s cheaper in the long run."

It might seem a bit overwhelming at first but once you’ve got the culture in place it will become second nature. If you want more info about becoming sustainable download the newly updated Sustainable Checklist published by Sustain Beauty Co.

BONUS TIP: Build a Community

It’s much easier to accomplish all of the above if you team up with other salon owners in the area. Research, transport, donations, and awareness are all easier in groups, so don’t hesitate to reach out and see who in your area is interested in teaming up to help carry the load.

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