Whats Going on

Green Queen Karine | How sustainability is becoming mainstream

March 18, 2020

Our resident environmental campaigner Karine Jackson has been championing her mission to go single use plastic-free and this month she explores how sustainability is going mainstream.

I’m writing this the day after watching the BAFTAs which pledged to go carbon neutral this year, and teamed up with the London College of Fashion to send guests information on how to dress sustainably. The sustainable fashion guide encouraged attendees to either re-wear something they already own or hire an ensemble as opposed to buying something new.

It also urged them to make the most of rental fashion sites, such as Hurr Collective, By Rotation and My Wardrobe HQ, or source clothing from resale outlets like Vestiare Collective and Depop, or to buy from sustainable fashion brands, such as Stella McCartney and Reformation, which are renowned for using innovative eco-friendly materials.

I’ve got to admit, my first thought was a bit cynical – are they really sustainable at all?! But this is actually a great demonstration of what I’m always telling people – baby steps are the way to get started in sustainability.

A spokesperson for BAFTA said: “Sustainability is very important to BAFTA, and we’re doing more than ever before.” And that’s the point really – to do more than ever before. And then keep doing that.

The spokesperson said, “Where sustainable choices are unable to be made, BAFTA is offsetting, as well as giving guests the tools to offset their own travel and make sustainable fashion choices.”

In addition to encouraging guests to dress sustainably, the awards ceremony ditched goody bags and served a vegan starter and dessert in a bid to be more environmentally friendly, following in the footsteps of the Golden Globes which served an exclusively vegan meal during the ceremony, and the Oscars’ luncheon which was also entirely plant-based.

I think it’s really interesting for our industry to see how others are tackling their approach to sustainability at events like this – we love an awards night don’t we?! And they demonstrate that we want to keep living our lives a certain way – we’re not all going to stop shopping and return to living off the land, so we need to find a compromise between living comfortably and enjoying life, and wrecking the planet with indulgent conveniences. So well done to BAFTA for making their baby steps in the public eye and encouraging people to think about their own choices.

I’ve been re-examining some of my own choices at the salon, where we’ve switched up our milk alternative. When I started offering vegan milk and snacks at the salon I thought all vegan milk was equal, however, a brilliantly researched article in The Guardian that compared various milks (including dairy) for sustainability got me to rethink this.

A glass of dairy milk produces almost three times more greenhouse gas than any plant-based milk, and the feature says that choosing plant milk instead of animal milk is the best environmental choice you can make.

However, almond milk (which we were serving) is not healthy for the planet and is especially hard on bees. The Guardian reported: ‘While almond trees occupy smaller amounts of farmland compared with other crops grown for milk, this benefit is overshadowed by the negative impacts of almond farming in the US. Concentrated almost entirely in California’s arid Central Valley, almonds are the largest specialty crop in the US and the orchards cover a region the size of Delaware.

‘Almonds require more water than any other dairy alternative, consuming 130 pints of water to produce a single glass of almond milk, according to an Oxford study. Satisfying continual demands for larger almond crops is also placing unsustainable pressures on US commercial beekeepers. Nearly 70% of commercial bees in the US are drafted every spring to pollinate almonds. Last year, a record number –over one-third of them– died by season’s end as a result of these pressures and other environmental threats.’ That’s 50bn commercial bee deaths, just for almond milk. Yikes.

Oat milk on the other hand performs very well on all sustainability metrics, and the paper says ‘it’s unlikely that there will be unintended environmental consequences that emerge when the scale of oat milk use gets larger. Currently, 50 to 90% of global oat production goes into animal feed, so there’s a huge existing acreage that we can safely steal share from without moving the needle at all on total production.”

Oats are grown in cooler climates such as the northern US and Canada, so aren’t associated with deforestation in developing countries. It’s also amazingly easy to make, which means you could also bypass the packaging that it comes in, and I had great fun making some and posting the results on our social media to draw clients’ attention to our change.

This just goes to show that the more focus is put onto educating around sustainability in the press, whether from the journalists directly or from initiatives that they’re reporting on, the easier it’ll become for us all to keep making those baby steps in the right direction.


Do you offer vegan milk alternatives in your salon? Let us know – tag us on social @prohairmag and @karinemjackson for a shout out!