Get your hair cut and save the planet!

Get your hair cut and save the planet!

We are facing combined emergencies in climate and nature – so what can we do?

To find out, visit your hairdresser or barber!

Hairdressers play a key role in spreading information, so a new project aims to encourage them to help raise consumer awareness about the environment. It’s called “Mirror Talkers”.

Created by Professor Denise Baden of Southampton University Business School, it involves eco-tips that salons stick to mirrors which prompt conversations about sustainable haircare practices. Mirror Talkers has been rolled out to the UK’s salons by specialist hair and beauty waste management and recycling experts Green Salon Collective.

The stickers placed on salon mirrors pose questions like: ‘have you tried leave-in conditioner?’ or ‘do you agree most of us use too much shampoo and shampoo too often.’ A study with 21 salons found hairdressers enjoyed using them. Clients also loved them, with 73% saying it was very likely or likely that they would change their haircare routines as a result.

“It is hard to think of an occupation which involves more general conversation with a wide variety of people, and which involves behaviours so relevant to people’s everyday routines, than hairdressing,” Denise explained.
Each week, millions of people in the UK get haircuts and, in the process, come into contact with key environmental issues, ranging from water and energy use and carbon emissions to toxic chemicals. Running hot water is one of the most expensive and energy consuming things done in salons and our homes, so advice such as shampooing once, rather than rinse and repeat, saves time, money and energy all whilst benefitting the condition of your hair.
And the industry itself has a massive environmental footprint.
The 41,000 UK hair salons and barber shops turn over around £7 billion annually, with 274,000 people working in them. They use huge amounts of energy, water, plastic, card, paper and chemicals and produce large amounts of chemical and other waste. UK salons produce more carbon emissions than many small countries! (source

That means that hair salons have the power to make a real difference by following the three sustainability Rs : Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Most businesses in the sector are micro businesses, run by caring people who care for the planet as well as their clients. They are agile, taking decisions quickly and effectively and more and more salon owners and freelance hairdressers are trying to run planet friendly businesses.

Encouragingly, there is is significant movement in the beauty industry as a whole to both support its small businesses and to take the lead in business’ role in tackling the climate and biodiversity crisis. The British Beauty Council have published two groundbreaking reports on a sustainable future for beauty and green washing, respectively and have set up the Sustainable Beauty Coalition whose 2023/24 priority is tackling waste. The world’slargest cosmetics company, L’Oreal , has created a tool to help salons track, monitor and reduce their carbon footprint with the ultimate goal of being certified Net Zero. Green Salon Collective offer a range of support and information in addition to their circular economy waste recycling. Including “Salon RE:Source” a sustainable hairdressing tool kit written by salon owners Anne Veck and Keith Mellen which has been downloaded 1,500 times.

Salon owners and freelance hairdressers can choose from a range of product manufacturers who aim to put planet at least along side profit. Davines, Oway, Tabitha Kraan Organics, Organic Colour Systems, Easydry, Scrummi, to name just a few.

Hairdressers are creative, talented, energetic, knowledgeable, sociable, sympathetic and highly skilled. They are experts and professionals. Their best work is art. And increasingly they are concerned about the future of the planet.

Hairdressers talk to millions of clients each week. What if every appointment included a chat about climate and biodiversity and what we can do? Next time you are at the salon or barbers, make sure you have that conversation!

Mirror Talkers
Green Salon Collective
Anne Veck Sustainability
Salon RE:Source
British Beauty Council reports


UK Business and Biodiversity Forum

Author’s bio.

Keith Mellen is a director at Anne Veck Limited. Our hair salon in Oxford was refitted in 2013, aiming to combine sustainability with the Anne Veck brand to create a stylish, green, destination salon. The focus was on on reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, together with using products which are manufactured using renewable energy, recycled packaging and naturally derived ingredients. Anne Veck was the first U.K. salon business to be certified Carbon Neutral (by Carbon Footprint Limited) in 2019. The salon’s CO2 emissions were reduced form 14 tonnes p.a. in 2012 to 8 tonnes in 2022.
Keith is also a director of the UK Business and Biodiversity Forum CIC, a business lead initiative exploring ways businesses can act to reverse the decline in nature.
This blog was originally written for Ecohustler .

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