Beauty comes at a price, especially in the hair industry. From water usage to improper waste disposal, there are many ways that salons can be not-so-green. Thankfully, now more than ever, there are tons of educational resources and organizations available to help salons adopt greener practices. Whether you’re a sustainable pro or a curious novice, we’re breaking down the most common myths and misconceptions of owning a green salon.
The Cost of Going Green
There’s a common perception that anything environmentally friendly is more expensive, but that’s not always the case, says Will Simpson, head of global corporate accounts for Green Circle Salons. For salons interested in eco- friendly business practices, Green Circle works with individual budgets. Though there may be some upfront costs, there are definite financial advantages in the long run.
“As you’re reducing waste, you’re automatically creating more profitability,” says Simpson, who adds that a lot of business owners are hesitant to make expensive changes to their salon without being able to see an immediate return. However, what they often don’t realize is that they’ll notice an immediate improvement in their monthly energy bills.
Two of the most common sustainable upgrades include installing LED lighting, which can help save up to 70 per cent of electricity every month and installing efficient showerheads, such as Ecoheads, that will use less water and reduce rinse time.
“Each of our products pay for themselves within months of the purchase because of how much you’re saving,” says Valorie Tate, co-owner of Ecoheads North America. “The sustainability pays for itself.”
Currently, there are 750 Canadian salons that use Eco Heads shower heads. They use 65 per cent less water and energy, which on average, reduces water usage by 103 gallons (or 780 water bottles).
Be in the Know
Some business owners think of “green” as a niche market, but that’s far from the case. In today’s world, there are so many educational resources to help equip owners with necessary knowledge and to connect them with experts who are ready to answer any questions.
“Based on the business’ size, location and
any other unique parts of their profile, we offer customized education and guidance, walking
them through what the program would look like based on their needs,” says Simpson. Having this customizable approach is key because, for example, a smaller salon in rural Saskatchewan wouldn’t have the same questions or concerns as a larger chain in Toronto.
Green Circle also provides many online resources to help all salons and businesses—regardless
of whether they work with Green Circle—to incorporate more sustainable practices.
Even if you decide to work independently, it’s important to do your research and educate yourself about how to reduce your carbon footprint or use cleaner products.
For Rolanda Anderson, owner of Salon True, Calgary’s first “organic” salon, she decided to explore more sustainable options following a health issue she experienced.
“I dove into so much research on organic hair lines and the types of chemicals [used],” she says. Though skeptical at first, Anderson found Organic Way (Oway), which is dubbed “the world’s first professional organic hair colour, care and styling line” and is made with biodynamic, organic ingredients. A few larger and more mainstream brands have also started offering colour products with less chemicals, including Oligo Professionnel’s Calura Gloss, which Anderson uses and is alcohol- free and doesn’t contain PPD (a chemical that can cause allergic reactions).
In addition, Anderson has implemented green practices throughout her salon, with the use of the Ecoheads and recycling systems.
“As you’re reducing waste, you’re automatically creating more profitability,” says Will Simpson, Head of Global Corporate Accounts for Green Circle Salons.
When it comes to hair colour, most chemicals truly are a stylist’s best friend, especially when they want to produce vibrant and long-lasting results. This often leads stylists, including Anderson, to think that more natural or organic alternatives aren’t as effective.
“Before opening the salon, I made sure to try out all my products thoroughly, and I found that I got the same, if not even better, results compared to the other products that I was using for over 13 years,” she says. “My clients have a certain standard that they expect, and I didn’t want to compromise that, but after weeks of research and finding the right products, I realized I didn’t have to.”
The Reality Behind Recycling
According to Simpson, one of the most common and disheartening misconceptions is that recycling programs are ineffective.
“Recycling is still very much happening; it’s just as effective as ever if you’re choosing the
right [program] and they’re abiding by the proper protocol,” he says. “Green Circle is able to guarantee that all of its recyclable material is being responsibly recycled.”
Simpson suggests doing your own research or asking a Green Circle representative about your city’s recycling regulations and programs, including how to properly separate your waste materials.
Some salon owners may fear that if they slightly raise their prices to accommodate their new green or clean business initiatives, their clientele won’t support them.
In reality, according to Simpson and Anderson, there is a huge market looking for hair salons with sustainable values—even if it’s going to cost them a few extra dollars.
“The cost balances out in the end because when you elevate the entire experience for your guest by using a cleaner approach and not compromising your quality of work, most clients anticipate a cost increase,” Anderson says, adding that green and clean practices can have huge marketing benefits to help attract the right kind of clientele, which is another factor worth considering.