Every year I hold a Colour Festival in the salon with the purpose of promoting our colour services, but this year I decided to take a different focus for our event. Becoming single-use plastic free is now my immediate goal, and communicating this to clients is really important – partly to align our ethics with our brand from a marketing point of view, but partly to encourage them to also think about their own plastic consumption and purchase choices.
I was absolutely thrilled with the turnout – we were inundated with journalists from national titles like The Guardian and Good Housekeeping as well as clients and brands who were all raving about the talk given by Lucy Siegle, renowned ethical journalist and author of Turning The Tide On Plastic. Lucy has been a client of mine for a long time and is a presenter on The One Show on ethical issues, so I asked her to come and work with me to create a blueprint that I hope you’ll be able to implement in your own salon.
If you haven’t read Lucy’s book, download it now! It’s absolutely brilliant to get you thinking about what plastic you use and how it’s become so prevalent.
The first thing to do is a plastic audit. This basically means being really vigilant about what plastic packaging comes into your salon, putting it all in one place and then assessing how much there is and where it’s coming from. I planned to do this for a week but I was shocked that after three days it was taking over my office! I urge you to do this as a first step so that you and your team can really see the impact of how much builds up – I guarantee it will motivate you to cut it down.
1) Ask if you actually need the product that is bringing in the excess plastic in the first place. If not, just don’t buy it! If I forget my reusable coffee cup now I won’t allow myself a coffee (and I pretty much NEVER forget it as a result!)
2) If you need the item, but could swap to the same thing without the plastic, do it! We’ve changed to Who Gives a Crap toilet roll for example – it comes wrapped in paper not plastic, and the cardboard tube is smaller than usual rolls so you get more tissue to the roll.
3) If you need the item and there isn’t an alternative, it’s time to start talking to the manufacturer. I was really cross when I ordered reusable bamboo coffee cups for all of my team and they came wrapped in plastic packaging AND had a stupid cleaning tool with a plastic handle with each one. When I contacted the company I bought them from they were incredibly blasé so I posted all the unnecessary plastic back to them with a letter about why they needed to change their ways! It may be easy to ignore a complaint but if they start to receive a lot of plastic back they’ll be forced to take it seriously. During her talk, Lucy told us about a movement of people who remove excess plastic at the checkout at supermarkets and leave it at the store by way of protest. Plastic is basically a product of capitalism, and stores are motivated by profit, so if they won’t be guided by morals then we need to motivate them financially. If it becomes more of an inconvenience to dispose of plastic we as consumers refuse, as well as a bad PR story, then companies will change!
So let’s talk about industry manufacturers… I’ve been with Organic Colour Systems for 15 years and they’ve always been very progressive about their carbon footprint and not just their ingredients. For example, they would take the packaging that their ingredients arrived in and repurpose that to use to pack the finished products they sent back out. They are moving to 100% post-consumer recycled bottles for their colour and then shampoo and conditioners by 2020 – they are the first professional hair company in the world to do this. One of the services we’re now offering is product refills – clients can bring their empty product bottles back and refill them.
Talk to your product company about how they’re tackling plastic –both the bottles themselves and the external packaging they transport them in.
Let us know how your plastic audit goes on Instagram – tag us @karinemjackson and @prohairmag and we’ll be giving a shout out to you for the changes you’re making. And please do ask me questions about your plastic issues – if I don’t know the answer I know someone who does!
www.ecohairandbeauty.com – Get your salon certified sustainable and don’t forget to promote it to your local press and clients.
Turning The Tide On Plastic by Lucy Siegle – Must read book to get you up to speed on all things plastic and recycling