Management Practices

What Can America's Water-Worried Salons Learn from Others?

Paul Tate | April 20, 2017 | 6:12 AM

Rains could wash away worries over the water shortages affecting salons across huge swathes of the country, with the U.S. Drought Monitor reporting in March that the geographical area affected by drought has dropped by around 30 per cent to just 9.83 per cent. Even California has lifted the Drought State of Emergency in most of its jurisdiction. But despite this, a return to normal is not on the cards and the days of careless water use are long gone.

Abnormally dry conditions continue from west to east, and up the east coast. Groundwater, the huge natural reservoirs that hold the water, are at an all-time low. In Georgia and Florida rainfall was six inches below normal in March. That is a concern for everyone, but especially a water-hungry industry like beauty.

American salons are not the only ones in the developed world facing these challenges. Australia has a long history of severe drought affecting business, having recently emerged from the worst episode in its history, with some regions still struggling with crippling water shortages. During that time the industry made huge strides towards managing in extreme conditions.

"Climate change is very real for us because it has had a major impact on our weather; it’s hotter and drier than ever, pushing us into drought," says Benny Risher, the man behind the Ecoheads shower head, which reduces water use by 65 per cent while pumping up the pressure. "For 15 years we’ve struggled with water shortages, and have had to develop strategies to cope."

The drought in Australia has convinced many salon owners that the planet really is under threat, a view that is gaining increasing credibility in the US following its own experiences.

"There is no Plan B. There is no Planet B," says Shane Price, founder and CEO of Green Circle Salons, which launched in Canada in 2009. It now works with more than 15,000 salons across the entire North American continent to help remove and reduce waste, slashing the amount its partner salons dump in landfill sites by up to 95 per cent. "Water is getting more and more expensive, and we must reduce waste by repositioning what we use through recycling, remaking, reusing and all the other Rs that will help us deal with our ecological problems."

The overnight success of Ecoheads in the US, with hundreds of salons installing the units on their basins, proves there is a willingness among the industry to act.

"Even in those areas where water is plentiful there are challenges with pressure and pollutants, which explains partly why our showerheads are selling across the country," says Paul Tate, co-owner of Ecoheads North America. "But there is also a willingness to embrace a basic human responsibility, partly driven by the enigmatic millennial generation coming into the industry and by the clients. We must rise up to our responsibilities as an industry because, even with the rains, the experts are warning that water remains a threatened resource. We adopt ways to protect our planet, not just in high-risk areas but all over the country."

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