How sustainable is your hair salon?

Your ultimate guide to a sustainable cut and colour.

I admit it, I don't get my hair cut very often. 

I'd never really given a lot of thought to the resources it takes to get our hair done, and the waste produced in the process.

So this time around I put some time and research into my choice - and quickly found out there's a thriving network of salons across Australia actively lowering their environmental impact.

I recently paid a visit to Jade and her team at Olive Eco Hair in Brisbane, Australia. I'd read they were "consciously reducing our carbon footprint" but was keen to see what this actually meant. How were they doing things differently?

Enter Sustainable Salons Australia

Jade has always been a conscious business owner, doing what she could to recycle and save energy. But it wasn't until I was sitting in the chair that I learnt just how different a salon could be.

Jade's salon is part of Sustainable Salons Australia, a social enterprise that rescues up to 95% of salon resources from landfill to re-purpose and reuse these materials for as long as they can.

Their aim is for a zero-waste industry - think foil back into foil in a closed-loop, infinite system, and hair clippings to soak up oil spills.

Sustainable Salons Australia - collecting and re-purposing 95% of salon waste!

Olive Eco Hair owner and founder Jade says she took the same approach with business as she does in her own life and home.

"By creating a more natural and non-toxic lifestyle - changing the way we ate, the products we used for cleaning and what we put on our skin - I took the approach to create this within my working environment also," Jade says.

"Healthy hair, healthy body and healthy planet - it’s all connected.

"We are conscious of the impact that hair care has on the planet, and so we’re choosing an eco-friendly approach that is essential for now and our future generations."

Sustainable Salons Australia will also donate hair 15cm or longer to make real wigs for children with alopecia or anyone who has gone through cancer treatment.

I was blown away by the number of ways a business like this could lessen its impact and do things different to the 'normal' throw-away culture.

Olive Eco Hair owner Jade has created a sustainable, toxic-free environment

"We harness Queensland’s beautiful weather in every way possible and our 30-square-metre salon space is fueled by solar power," Jade says.

"We choose all other products carefully, including organic herbal cleaning products, compostable herbal teas and water-reduction systems at the basin."

To keep artificial light and air conditioning to a minimum they make use of the natural light and air flow through the large glass doors and windows.

I asked Jade what her advice would be to others wanting to create a more sustainable, eco-conscious business.

"To other hair salons I would encourage and suggest them to join up and be a part of SSA, as you know exactly what they do with everything you give to them - reusing and recycling your waste!" Jade says.

"It is such an incredible organisation that also rewards you for your efforts.

"For other small businesses I would suggest trying to do what you can with your waste, like finding out where you can take it, dividing into separate bins for things like soft plastics, paper and metals.

"Trying to keep heating and cooling to a minimum is important too."

How to choose a hairdresser that aligns with your values

The new cut!

Like most conscious choices, it takes a little research. And also answering, 'what are my values?'.

"People who make conscious choices about what is important to them usually choose the hairdresser that aligns with their values," Jade says.

"We have many health conscious people from all walks of life that want to come to Olive and experience more toxic-free products on their hair.

"We see people also wanting to support small, local business that are conscious of the environment. I'd start by researching what hairdressers are around that align with what they believe in and value."


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