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Salon Sustainability: Practical Advice from a Salon Owner

Eco-friendly practice is HUGE right now- no matter what industry you look at- there's a big BUZZ around sustainability. It's about time!

We know we need to take action at home to make seemingly small changes- and this is often made achievable through home recycling, eco swaps and switches- that collectively make a big impact in the community. 

In industry, it's even more important that we take responsibility for our sustainability- we can often create more waste and generally consume more than the average household. The beauty industry needs to take action to ensure we are working together to do all we can, educate ourselves to take action and do better. I recently became an ambassador for BABTAC - a fantastic opportunity for me to connect with a wider network, with the intention to help spread the word that we need to work together to make positive eco changes.

For your to-do list: Salon Sustainability Self-Audit

If you'd like to become more sustainable in the salon, and you're not sure where to start, take some notes on the various areas of your salon practices. Assess each physical area, and treatment protocol, deciding if you could make any changes to improve their impact on the environment.

Here are a few of my top tips to make a start with improving your salon sustainability:

  • Be realistic with your changes. For each new change- work out the logistics, the budget & the plan to implement. If something doesn't fit with your budget, there are always other ways you can account for this. Can you implement a small price increase to allow for the changes?
  • Planning: Think ahead and put a date in the diary if you have a team you need to communicate new changes with. 
  • Consistency: I know that time and energy is thinly spread as a salon owner. When you're not overseeing one area of the business, you're overseeing another. Could you appoint an eco-ambassador in your salon to help oversee the implementation of the changes? 
  • Ditch the disposables: Many treatments require the use of disposables, can these be switched up for eco friendly versions? If you can’t, look at how much you’re using- this not only saves money but saves waste.
  • Say no to plastic: Cotton buds, brushes, spoolies - they can all be sourced without plastic handles. Bamboo is a popular alternative. Suppliers are starting to listen, they're stocking more plastic alternatives. Challenge your suppliers on their packaging- I cannot tell you how many times I have complained to suppliers about packing soft items in plastic bubble wrap?! Make noise about it and people start to listen.
  • Reduce your water: Communicate a reminder to all staff to only use what they need- when cleaning, preparing for treatments and day-to-day tasks.
  • Love your laundry: Could you switch towels on treatment beds to sheets? Sheets are much more economical and still offer the client comfort and dignity.

 The big switch: Refill, Reuse, Repeat!

If you follow me on any of my social media accounts- you will have seen me shouting this from the rooftops. In fact- I am so passionate about refilling and reusing, I opened my own pop-up refill shop inside my salon during the 2020 lockdown! The pop-up gained popularity immediately and is now a permanent feature inside my salon, one day to graduate into it's own premises!

Single use, plastic bottles that we receive most of our salon products in are often seen as the only option- the 'norm'- and the majority of premium brands don't seem to want to change this.

Plastic is cheap to source, often seen as the easier and more cost effective option to transport than glass. Whilst this is true- when the product comes to the end of its life/ used up, the perfectly reusable bottle gets thrown into the bin- with the hopes it will be transformed into something new. This is often not the case, despite our positive intentions.

The very best thing that we can do with those beautiful skincare bottles, jars and salon cleaning products is to REFILL them!

Refill tips for your audit:

  • Source refillables: have you got a local eco refill shop you could collaborate with to supply your refills & help spread the word amongst your clients about refilling?
  • Challenge brands: ask your manufacturers and suppliers to consider offering larger quantities of product you use a lot of (even bigger than 'salon sizes') in refill drums. Recycling schemes for bottles are popping up via Terracycle- but before these bottles are recycled, refilling and reusing is by far the better option.
  • Set up your own in-salon refillery! Buy 5L sizes of your most used liquid products: customer hand soap, anti-bac cleaning spray, floor cleaning solution, glass cleaner- the list goes on. If you don't have a local refill shop who can help you with this, drop me a line over at @gatleyrefillery and I can help guide you in the right direction to eco-friendly refill brands.

I cannot wait to hear how you get on implementing your salon sustainability changes! Tag me in your eco-swaps @beautyby_katiemillington so I can share your ideas with others!


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