Clean and serene – how to spot an eco-friendly salon

Looking for an eco-friendly salon? As it’s Earth Month, we’re shining a spotlight on how salons are working more sustainably. From towels to taking bottles back for refills, there’s never been more ways to be green!

Gina Conway Atelier

Forget rose-tinted glasses, the only shade to be rocking now is green. We’ve never been more aware of the damage we’re doing to the planet – and what we can do to mitigate that impact. When it comes to eco-friendly salons, Emily McTavish, Schwarzkopf Professional UK care and styling brand manager, says: “Being kinder to the planet isn’t something you can take or leave, it’s something we all need to work towards.”

Here are some of the signs to look out for in your local salon that show they’re pulling their socks up and making efforts to work cleaner and greener…

OFFSET EMISSIONS

Maxwell Oakley (pictured left) and Luke Davies (pictured right) set up barber shop Supply 91 to make a difference from the start. “We genuinely believe that if we all pull together then seemingly small actions can have a large impact. It was vital from the start that we offset our carbon emissions by planting trees, one for every service or treatment,” Maxwell explains.  “At first customers were surprised, but then said ‘why not?’”

Supply 91 teamed up with Ecologi, which runs UK and international schemes for re-investing proceeds in tree planting and local projects. Other options include Trees for Life, which supports Scottish rewilding projects and Trees for Cities.

 

THROW IN THE TOWELS

Using disposable towels may seem backward, but ditching is a habit to get into. “Switching to Scrummi towels changed my life,” says Nicola Harrison, owner of The Green Hairdressing Salon in Nottingham.

These absorbent towels still offer you a luxurious feel when you visit the salon, but made with 100 per cent sustainably sourced plant fibres, which means they’re biodegradable. “I feel better that I’m not throwing all that contaminated water down the sink,” Nicola adds. “And I reduce emissions by not having hours of washing.” It’s estimated that switching to Scrummi saves a salon 1,400kg of CO2 emissions each year!

 

Mewies & Co.

THE CHANCE TO REFILL

“Being more eco-friendly doesn’t mean things have to be expensive,” says Dan Mewies, owner of Mewies & Co. in Leicestershire, which has an Authentic Beauty Concept refill bar that has proved popular with clients.

At Atelier Hair in Derry, clients are also encouraged to bring back their bottles for filling. “We offer a 30 per cent discount when clients bring a clean empty bottle back,” says founder Ronan Stewart. “Then we can refill with what they had, or something new. They love the ethos.”

 

WORKING WITH LOCAL SUPPLIERS AND PARTNERS

Switching to a local mindset was natural when Covid struck, and looking closer to home also helps salons to become more sustainable by helping to reduce emissions during transport.

From refreshments to regular events and furniture to flowers, there are many ways your salon can keep plugged into your local community and collaborate. For example, Electric London sources almost all of its ingredients and materials in the UK – growing many of them at its own farm.

Sonté

Robbie Purves and Ian Irvine, founders of Sonté Hair in Edinburgh, created a Sustainability Charter upon opening in 2020, which prioritised local partnerships and other green measures. “We can’t expect our clients to know the industry as well as we should,” they explain. “We must be aware of sustainable options and pass them on.”

 

REPURPOSING MATERIALS

Trying to unlearn the habits of our throwaway culture is tricky but makes a huge impact on the waste and damage we can cause. Upcycling furniture and eliminating single-use items, where possible, are great steps to take for example.

When Creative HEAD Magazine’s It List Entrepreneur 2021 Brooke Evans designed her salon, BE Ironbridge, the key focus was to incorporate as many recycled and eco-friendly elements as possible. She used various sources to furnish her salon, creating a truly unique finish: lights and lamps were created from old Bakelite hairdryers; second-hand chairs and sofas reupholstered by a local firm; a reception desk created from locally-sourced Broseley bricks. “For me it was a case of knowing I was doing the best I could to be greener,” she explains.

BE Ironbridge interior

BE Ironbridge

SPECIALIST RECYCLING

The Social London

You’d be surprised just how much of the products and tools from salons could be recycled – but aren’t. “About seven per cent of what you put in a normal recycling bin actually gets recycled in UK salons,” explains Fry Taylor, founder of the Green Salon Collective. The collective can effectively recycle used foils, empty colour tubes, chemicals, PPE, plastic and even hair from salons. You’ll be tipped off by the separated boxes they use, as well as promotional material provided by the Green Salon Collective if your salon subscribes to the scheme.

Handle takes another approach, collecting used beauty packaging to recycle into either more packaging, or its beautiful marble-esque products which you can buy. From hairbrushes to toothbrushes, these artistic handles give new life to old products. “Handle is offering more than just recycling, it’s a lifestyle choice,” says founder Steven Banks. “We have been blown away by the care, attention and diligence people have paid to the programme, it creates a ‘we’re in this together’ feeling.”

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