Sustainability Step by Step: How and Where to Start
SALON TODAY editor in chief Stacey Soble shares techniques from the salon network on how to get started becoming more environmentally conscious in the salon and beyond.
Ready to start taking steps to become more environmentally conscious in the salon but don't know where to begin? You aren't alone.
Step number one: Don’t panic.
“The idea of building a sustainability strategy for your salon can feel overwhelming,” says Stacey Soble, editor of SALON TODAY, a business resource for leading salon owners. “But when you break it down and look at almost any one process or procedure in your salon, there’s likely a way to make it more sustainable.”
So, here’s the eco-strategy: start simple, one step at a time, and look for authentic, transparent and win-win solutions.
“Evaluate each of your salon systems, services or products, and see if there is an environmentally friendlier option to replace or upgrade it,” Soble says.
Identifying and adding or focusing on eco-conscious retail and professional product lines—like R+Co and R+Co BLEU— that align with your salon values, all the way from ingredient story to packaging, is a logical place to begin.
Soble also recommends prioritizing investments or changes that can save your salon money in the long run—and will flow into a more sustainable future.
“Everything is leaning sustainable right now, all the way down to the towels salons use,” Soble notes.
• Some options may be obvious—quality LED lighting to reduce your utilities bill (without sacrificing quality) and water-saving processes and fixtures.
• “Energy-efficient washers and dryers make sense, of course, but one of the newest trends I’m hearing a lot about right now are disposable, biodegradable, single-use towels,” Soble explains. Studies she’s seen show these types of biodegradable towels can require less energy to produce and maintain than traditional ones, plus save salons money, time and hassle linked to a laundry service or extra staffing. Win, win, win, it appears.
• Salon leaders are tapping into technology and data more than ever to measure and manage their business choices, and color and product management systems are a strong and growing trend. Anything that automates or creates a new habit of reducing waste goes into the “green” column.
• Many salons took advantage of the pandemic shutdown to reset salon systems and act on shifts in consumer and employee mindsets that prioritize greener, cleaner and healthier consciousness overall. Redesigning to satisfy sanitation requirements was just part of the equation, Soble notices, as she reviews submissions for SALON TODAY’s annual Salons of the Year design and remodel competition. “Today, even the paint you select for your salon walls can be one that is gentler for the environment, and there’s a trend to include more repurposed, renewable or reclaimed resources in your design.”
• Salons can choose to go a step further and partner with a national, specialized service like Glo Recycling or Green Circle to help figure out the most effective ways to reduce waste and recycle or dispose of items like hair clippings, hair color, foils and product packaging in the salon. Soble notes those packaging and mail-back services do incur an additional expense for the salon—one many salons offset with an environmental fee.
Ultimately, walking the salon talk of sustainability is essential. But talking up your eco-walk is critical, too.
“Doing better for the planet is top of mind for salon guests and salon talent today,” Soble says. “Both groups want to support a business that stands for something. Talking about and marketing your eco-values and stance in the right way is important.
“I do think people are leery of greenwashing—not backing up your sustainability claims with facts,” she adds. “Be sure you talk consistently and authentically about specific things you are doing and the partners and brands you are doing it with.”
Use your blog posts, email marketing, social media and in-salon messaging to bullet point exactly the actions and commitments you and your partners take, and back it up with proof, quantifiable impacts images and celebrations of your salons eco-milestones.
And last but certainly not least, you should be able to turn to your brand partners to help frame and back up your position. R+Co and R+Co BLEU have built a strong product and packaging story with ample facts and resources to complement, strengthen and help lead any salon’s sustainability goals.