Go Green! Embrace Sustainability In Your Salon

green sustainability salon

How To Become A Green Salon

Do you wish your salon could be more eco-friendly but not sure where to start?   Nowadays we're all encouraged to think about the impact we're having on the planet, and increasingly clients are are looking for salons and products that are green, vegan and cruelty-free.   

Trying to become an eco-friendly salon can feel overwhelming at times, but there are plenty of steps you can take to switch to a more sustainable operating model.   After all, looking beautiful shouldn't have to cost the earth.

Read on to discover just some areas where you and your team can make salon sustainability part of your business.  Transitioning to an eco-friendly approach will be a journey, which will always start with small steps.  Why not plan out what you will do first and tackle a few key areas?

Salon Waste Recycling 1

Salon Waste and Recycling

One area where salons can make a huge difference is by reducing the amount of waste that is produced and move more towards recycling. You may need to take a good look at what is going into your bins! Here are some ideas for reducing waste:

  • Start with the products that you use on a daily basis. How are they packaged? Are they recycled? If not then do speak to your suppliers and ask them if they can supply an alternative or simply switch to a supplier who uses recycled packaging.
  • Cut down on plastic bottles and containers by using refillable products wherever possible. Avoid single-use items that are going directly to waste.
  • When giving drinks to your customers, use a real cup rather than a plastic or cardboard one. Note only does this cut down on wastage but it adds a nice personal touch as well. For food items, it can be tempting to buy those individually wrapped packs of biscuits or similar items but not only do they greatly contribute to plastic wastage but they cost a lot more money. Go old-school and prepare a nice biscuit tin and buy in bulk instead.
  • You want to make it easy for everybody in the salon to recycle. Rather than have a central recycling area, consider having several small, individual recycling bins throughout the salon so that both the stylists and customers don't have to walk far. Yes, people are lazy! Make it easy for them.

Sustainable Hair Salons

Recycling Hair

If you cut hair in your salon then the chances are that one of the biggest causes of waste is actually the hair that is cut. This so often just goes on the floor, only to be swept up and thrown away. It's fairly common knowledge that long locks of hair can be used to make wigs but there are actually a great many uses for human hair of any length and by committing to a recycling program you can be greatly contributing to the wellbeing of the environment. Let's look at a few use cases:

Cleaning up oil spills

Ever suffered with greasy hair? Of course you have! The reason for this is that hair absorbs oil really well and whilst that can be annoying whilst still attached to our heads, it is a real benefit when used as a way of cleaning up oil that has been spilled in some way.

A 'hair boom' is an idea pioneered by a hairdresser called Phil McCroy who came up with the idea of using hair to help prevent the spread of oil spills at sea. Cuttings of hair of all kinds is squeezed into tubes made of nylon or cotton and can be placed strategically in the water or on the shores to prevent oil spills from spreading and causing further damage.

In a similar way, this hair can be woven into an absorbent mat which can be used to cover storm drains, clean up waterways, used as a floor matting where oil is often used - such as by mechanics.


Hair is actually a protein which will break down over time. It is also rich in nitrogen. These two properties means that it makes great food for plants and can be used as compost. It is often given to farmers and gardeners for this purpose. 

Rope making

A designer, Sanne Visser has been working with human hair for over a decade and using it to create rope which is then used in everything from art to bags to rope swings. This is not something that is yet mainstream but it shows us another potential use for excess hair. 

Getting started with recycling

There are many ways that you can start recycling in your salon but one of the simplest is to partner with a salon-specific recycling organisation such as the Green Salon Collective. You purchase some recycling bins and then arrange for collections on a regular basis. They recycle hair and in many ways and also partner with many research projects to find new and innovative uses for it.

This does cost money to your business of course but one thing that many green salons are using is the 'green fee'. This is a simple fee which is added onto the cost of a treatment to cover the recycling costs. It is somewhat controversial as it effectively raises your prices but a great many of the salons that have begun to introduce it are finding that it is actually having a very positive effect on their business and they are actually becoming more profitable by being an eco-salon!

Salon Water Supply and Laundry Tips

All salons use a lot of water and heating it uses a lot of energy.  The chemicals you use also end up going down the plug-hole and into the country's waterways.  Changes in this area can therefore make a big difference in helping you to tread more lightly on the planet.

  • Install eco-shower heads in your salon.  These can double the water pressure thus cutting your rinse time in half, allowing you to use less water.  Your client will also enjoy a head massage!
  • Ensure staff switch off the tap while they are applying shampoo and at any time they aren't using it.
  • Consider changing to eco-friendly and natural based products where you can, including cleaning products.
  • If you wash towels in the salon, wash on as low a temperature as possible.  This also applies when washing your clients' hair.
  • Purchase a good quality energy efficient washing machine - it will save you energy and money in the long run.
  • Some salons find that changing to biodegradable and compostable towels is an eco-friendly option.  They can be a good way to save water and reduce energy costs and CO2 emissions.  Try Scrummi or Easy Dry.

Eco Friendly Bamboo Disposable Towels

Green Energy For Your Salon

You can reduce you CO2 emissions considerably by changing to a green energy company.  There are plenty to choose from and at the time of writing, examples include Ecotricity, GEUK and Octopus.  These companies supply 100% green electricity from renewables and some Green Energy UK offers 100% green gas.

Energy saving tips for your salon include:

  • Buy a high efficiency washing machine
  • Line dry where you can
  • Consider installing motion sensitive lighting in seldom used rooms.

How to become a green beauty salon


How To Make Your Salon Vegan Inclusive

People are increasingly looking for vegan and cruelty free options when it comes to caring for their hair.  Consider moving to an ethical supplier to accommodate this, such as Davines.  

You could also ensure that you have plant based milks and vegan snacks available as refreshments.   Paul Mitchell also offer a variety of vegan hair care products as do Oway.

Green Finances

If you really want to go the extra mile, consider moving to an ethical bank which supports your values.  This can be a very powerful step when it comes to making a difference.  It's also possible to offer staff green pension options, ensuring the funds are invested in ethical and environmentally friendly investments.

Eco Friendly Hair Salons

Making Your Beliefs On Sustainability Central To Your Salon Mission

Once you've started on your green journey, you will want to publicise the changes you are making.  Salon Guru can help you to do this by updating your website, producing newsletters and social media posts.

One of our clients, Tonia from Gavin Ashley hairdresser's had this to say about it: 

A lot of changes we implement in our Salon are often client-driven; although we felt some time ago that it was time to become more eco friendly, it was our clients who were becoming increasingly keen to support brands and Salons embracing nature and sustainability.

We introduced the Aveda brand because we liked their ethos of caring for the planet, sourcing and manufacturing responsibly.

Our own efforts to recycle our waste started with a partnership with Green Salon Collective but we have recently found other ways to recycle our waste direct to our clients who for example take our coffee cakes for compost and hair to line their hanging baskets.

We know that the Hairdressing Industry is taking big steps to support the planet and we are proud to be one of many Salons playing our part.