While more professional beauty brands continue to do their part for sustainability, some salons still don’t
know where to start or are apprehensive about the additional costs. However, with increasing consumer awareness, going green is a change that is quickly becoming no longer an option but a requirement.
“Sustainability becoming more mainstream stems from consumers being more conscious around trending topics like ‘vegan’ and ‘paraben-free,’” says Valorie Tate, founder of Sustain Beauty Co., a distributor for Ecoheads North America. “They want to know what they’re putting on their bodies, what they’re breathing in and what they’re putting in their hair. I call it the ‘age of the more empowered consumer.’”
“It’s not just about recycling; it’s about reducing what you’re consuming so you’ll need to recycle less. Recycling alone is not enough. Instead, we need to address the problem at the point of consumption.” — Tim Howard, Chief Innovation Officer, Vish
With brands throughout the industry answering the call with more sustainable ingredients, packaging and practices, it’s crucial for more salon owners to also step up to the plate.
“There’s certainly growing consumer demand for cleaner and greener products and services,” says Shane Price, founder and CEO of Green Circle Salons. “Trickling down into product innovation and packaging design, these big brands know they need to be more upfront about the materials they’re using. Consumers— particularly Gen Z—want to see social and environmental changes, so if I’m a smart salon owner right now, I’m thinking about a simple green strategy I can implement to make my business better, win market share and be more attractive to the modern customer.”
There are many different ways that salon owners and hairstylists can incorporate eco-conscious practices into their salons. However, one of the easiest and most efficient ways is to partner with companies that offer comprehensive services— rather than quick fixes or superficial solutions—and are passionate about addressing these concerns from the ground up.
Green Circle Salons’s recycling program helps salons safely recycle and dispose of hair clippings, excess colour, metals (including foils, aerosol cans and colour tubes), plastic, paper and cardboard. They’ve even expanded throughout the pandemic to help recycle single-use items and PPE waste, all the while providing salons with tools and resources to become more environmentally and financially sustainable.
“Our program is designed to help salons achieve three pillars: helping salons be greener through waste diversion, helping salons build revenue through our program, and helping them get noticed by green-minded consumers who are looking to channel their spending dollars into brands that are aligned with their values,” says Price. “We help salons with critical areas of their business through these pillars that all work together synergistically. We’ve also recently launched a carbon neutral services program so that when salons join our platform, they’re automatically able to offer carbon neutral services to their clients.”
“You easily get consumer votes when you begin doing something as simple as recycling and dealing with carbon emissions as well, which salons can do through Green Circle,” adds Price. “Doing an audit on your business is also crucial. Salons need to understand from a water waste standpoint and energy waste standpoint what can be done to implement more energy and water conservation so that you’re working on not only your environmental sustainability but also your financial sustainability.”
DID YOU KNOW?
ACCORDING TO VISH, 15 MILLION POUNDS OF HAIR COLOUR IS WASTED EVERY YEAR
The Cost of Colour
One of the biggest environmental issues in the salon industry is hair colour waste. While Green Circle helps salons recycle excess colour, Vish offers colour management software that measures and tracks colour formulas to help reduce and prevent waste.
“Vish was created to control waste in salons since salon owners know how much [hair colour waste] impacts their bottom line,”says Tim Howard, chief innovation officer for Vish. Howard, who is a former salon owner with more than 25 years of industry experience, understands first-hand the financial and environmental toll that excess colour has on salons and the planet.
“Hair colour doesn’t just get wasted in the bowl but also in overapplication, which means you must replace your products quicker, which is more packaging, more shipping and more product running down the drain and into our water waste and getting thrown into the environment unnecessarily,” he says. “This is a major issue,
but you need to provide people with a clear solution if you want to change a behaviour, so Vish was born to do just that. By providing information to each individual team member about how much product they’re using and expensing—not only what they’re wasting but also what they’re starting with— you’ll gain insight so you can change some of those behaviours across the salon team.”
Although colour waste isn’t a new concept, Vish noticed a rising demand for its software during the pandemic. “We were signing up salons at a rapid rate because they started to clue in that if and when they reopened, they were going to be doing a lot of colour corrections and using a lot of product,” says Howard. “Using software like Vish
to manage the hair colour business is crucial since it’s the highest-ticket item in a salon. Being able to monitor where and how you’re consuming and what you should be charging without relying on manual processes or guesswork is huge—for both the planet and your business. It has a massive return on investment.”
“One misconception that people have is that our own individual efforts won’t make a difference when our challenges are on such a large scale. But the reality is that this industry is one that can collectively get together and make a significant difference.” — Shane Price, Founder And CEO, Green Circle Salons
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… Refill!
While more professional beauty brands are integrating cleaner ingredients and formulas into their products, some have gone the extra mile to launch refillable products and programs to help cut down on excess waste and packaging.
Authentic Beauty Concept has started to roll out refill bars in select salons around the globe to promote its sustainable mission. The brand’s refill bars were created to encourage the “reduce, reuse, recycle” model and take it one step further.
Its program helps salons become more mindful of their consumption and try to reduce (if not eliminate) single-use plastics. How it works: Guests can bring their shampoo and conditioner bottles back to the salon and refill them with their favourite professional products. The dedicated refill bottles are made from 90 per cent post- consumer recycled plastic (PCR) and can be reused at least five times!
Wella has introduced Recharge Stations at select salons with the brand’s Elements refillable and recyclable pouches. Designed to reduce plastic consumption and waste, the pouches are made with 72 per cent less plastic than bottles, tubes and jars.
“There is no such thing as—or expectation of—perfection when it comes to sustainability. Start slow and small and find those quick and easy wins to help you gain confidence to keep going.” — Valorie Tate, Founder Of Sustain Beauty Co. And Distributor For Ecoheads North America
Tapping Into Change
Another major issue in the industry is water overconsumption at the backbar. Ecoheads offers a sustainable showerhead for salon sinks and backbars that features a spray nozzle that removes sediment and rust, filters the water and increases pressure while reducing energy and water usage by up to 65 per cent.
“Ecoheads’s nozzle helps the artist, the client, the business and the planet,” says Tate. “Sometimes salons and stylists can be resistant to change, but when they see how Ecoheads ticks all the boxes, they come around. The Ecoheads nozzle is so easy, and it saves and cleans water, conserves energy and enhances what they do.”
While implementing Ecoheads is a small change that can have a big impact, it’s important to also address some of your team’s habits in the salon that might be contributing to your carbon footprint.
“The first thing that salons should be doing is talking about it and getting alignment internally on what they can do as a team,” says Tate. “Often stylists will have some of the best ideas, so talking about it is key. Sometimes the most sustainable salons don’t talk about it enough because they don’t want to toot their own horn, but being open about it brings a lot more awareness and can even be a great promotional tool.”
The topic of sustainability can feel very big and intimidating, leaving some salon owners and hairstylists overwhelmed or unsure of where to start and opting to do nothing. Tate says it’s important to remind them that it’s OK to make mistakes, nobody is perfectly and completely sustainable, and doing something—even if it’s small—is better than not doing anything at all. “Look at the easy wins,” she says. “Look at what’s going to spark interest across your entire organization. Don’t start with the hardest or biggest challenge because that’s going to shut down the whole conversation. Start with something that’s easily implementable—that’s going to create a little appetite for the implementation of even more sustainable practices. It’s about building momentum; it’s not about being perfect tomorrow.”
DID YOU KNOW?
GREEN CIRCLE SALONS NOW HAVE MORE THAN 16,000 WASTE WARRIORS ACROSS NORTH AMERICA USING THEIR PROGRAM, WITH A 95 PER CENT RETENTION RATE
Is It Worth It?
As with anything, sustainability comes with a whole slew of myths and misconceptions that people— from salon owners to hairstylists to clients—believe that may impact their desire to be greener in their lives in and out of the salon.
“People think that being more sustainable is more expensive,” says Tate. “I think there’s something to that, but there’s also something to be said for the cost savings that go hand in hand with conservation. If you’re using less, you’re paying for less!”
“People think that the practices and products are too expensive or require a large investment,” says Cheryl Ross, sustainability manager for Green Circle Salons. “Some also think that sustainable products aren’t as effective as other products or that sustainability is just a fad or a trend, which is why educating people and providing transparency and relevant data and research on the subject are so important. We must show salons the benefits of implementing sustainable practices into their business, lead by example and encourage them to educate their customers.”
According to Howard, there are many small changes salons can make, such as switching to more sustainable alternatives, like paper foils made from recycled ingredients, and printing fewer documents and reports. He also recommends identifying employees who are passionate about being more eco-friendly and appointing them to help keep the rest of the team accountable and on track.
“Find team members who are passionate to lead that effort in your salon,” he says. “Salons can also benefit from their sustainable initiatives, such as entering competitions and winning awards to get acknowledgement from peers in the industry. It also helps attract clients who are seeking out salons that are less wasteful and whose values align with their goals.”
Howard suggests thinking about what else can be done in the salon: what lighting can be changed? What materials are used for the flooring? Are plastic or environmentally friendly products covering the chairs and furnishings
in the salon? He says that once we start asking these questions, we start to realize how much we can change to be more eco-conscious.
He also says it’s important for salons to look at their manufacturers and the people they’re buying products from and ask what they’re doing: “Are they using post-consumer recycled plastics? Are they using packaging that is more sustainable?”
“By aligning and partnering with companies that hold themselves accountable, it brings attention to things in the industry you want to change,” says Howard. “Changes like that on a higher level can really make an impact.”