It’s no secret that the beauty industry has a plastic problem, having been estimated to generate about 421,000 pounds of waste daily. With the emerging impact that waste is having on the world’s climate crisis, there’s no better time to start taking small planet-friendly steps to reduce single-use plastic waste.
CEO & Chair of BABTAC & CIBTAC, Lesley Blair MBE, says, “The beauty industry in the UK makes a substantial contribution to the economy, but also needs to consider what it contributes to the waste and environmental crisis we’re facing. Whilst we’re far from being one of the main waste culprits by comparison to other industries, this shouldn’t deter all beauty professionals from taking a personal responsibility for making sustainable changes – however big or small - to the way they work and committing to helping to protect our planet.”
If you are a salon owner or mobile therapist, there are lots of subtle but significant changes you can make – whether that’s offsetting your carbon, going plastic-free, or using exclusively cruelty-free and vegan products. Making your business more sustainable could even open up an entirely new customer base, for those seeking out environmentally friendly businesses in their area.
Luckily, BABTAC and their expert member Katie Millington, owner of Love Beauty Gatley and The Refillery, are on hand to offer expert advice on some simple switch-ups that you, your business & staff can make, to be part of a wider change and help make a difference.
“Before starting to implement sustainable swaps, I’d first advise conducting an ‘eco-audit” Katie says. “Be realistic with the changes - if it fits to your budget and is easy to maintain, implement them as soon as possible. If you need more budget, put a plan in place as a more long-term goal.”
Transparency is key in the sustainability journey, so if you’re planning to stock brands that claim to be ‘green’, check their back story first - if you don’t then your clients likely will. It’s not just about ingredients either, it’s also important to check packaging, their supply chain, and wider people-focussed ethics, including how they treat their staff and the communities they work with. You will have to delve a little deeper to find eco alternatives and brands that share your ideals.
5 SUSTAINABLE SWAPS
- Ditch the disposables
And if you can’t, look at how much you’re using. “We were all taught in college to use tissue for processes that we really don’t need,” says Katie. “If you’re using tissue roll to provide a ‘clean’ workspace for your tools, could this be replaced with a wipe clean tile or tray? Has it been sourced from a sustainable supplier?” If you are looking for an eco-alternative, Lucart Eco Natural Couch Roll is made from recycled coffee cups and drinks cartons, is FSC certified and provides a sustainable alternative to the traditional choice!
- Reduce your water
Make sure taps aren’t left on for longer than needed and remind your staff to wait until dishwashers or washing machines are full before using. Better still, hand wash and air dry! Look at reducing water usage even further by eliminating the need for laundry, by switching to an eco-friendly & biodegradable option such as Scrummi Towels. Made from 100% soft and natural compostable wood fibres from certified sustainable sources, Scrummi waffle products compost within 8-12 weeks (the same time taken as orange peel!)
- Clean and green
Instead of chemical-filled products in plastic bottles that can harm our oceans, use products like Ocean Saver Anti-Bac Refill Drops that you simply dilute in water. Other good eco-cleaning brands include Spruce, Everdrop, KINN and Ekologik. Or you can even make your own by combining baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice for a great all-purpose solution!
- Say no to plastic
Katie says, “Industry giants are starting to listen to the calls for more sustainable salon options, with professional skincare brands and suppliers reducing their use of plastic packaging and offering refillable or sustainable alternatives.” Hayley Winder not only offers innovative hypoallergenic gel nail products, but the HW Nail Systems range also features a refill size for the popular ‘Flexi B’ builder gel. Not only does this save plastic, but it also offers convenience and great value.
Everyday salon essential items such as cotton buds, brushes and spoolies can also now be sourced without plastic handles. Bamboo is a popular alternative, or LastSwab is a reusable cotton bud that can be sterilised in-between clients.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
Finally, with so many components to hair and beauty services, it’s important to have a good recycling system in place. Green Salon Collective offer a range of recycling services for all aspects of salon waste, from hair and metals to typically non-recyclable plastics, and even PPE. “All of the hair cut off gets made into hair booms to help clean up oil spills, as well as going into compost to help produce oxygen in the atmosphere, reduce carbon and fertilise soil”, explains Gina Conway, Aveda’s UK Ambassador for Sustainability and whose salons have teamed up with the collective. She continues, “Our excess colour is recycled to stop it going down the drain, and all foils are recycled, with any profits made from the recycled metals going to charity.”