Business Featured

How can I make my salon more environmentally friendly on a budget? – Phil Smith

July 15, 2021

As one of the most respected names in the hairdressing world, PHIL SMITH has built salon empires, launched multi-million selling haircare ranges and won countless awards for his business acumen. Here, he tackles your tricky post-Pandemic business issues…

“I’d like to implement as many measures I can to make my salon more environmentally-conscious, but how can I do this without it costing a fortune.”

Phil says:
“The sad truth is that being more eco-conscious definitely comes at a cost. But does that mean you shouldn’t bother? Absolutely not. I’m all for finding smart ways to boost your profits, but when it comes to saving the planet, the cost of NOT prioritising it is too high for our future – and our children’s. It’s only a matter of time before we’ll all be switching to more sustainable ways of running our salons. The world is changing and we have to adapt, whatever it takes.

I’m sure you will have noticed as much as I have how clients are scrutinising our businesses and asking tough questions about what we’re doing to go greener. Whether it’s the products we’re using at the backwash or the small habits around the salon, none of us can afford to be wasteful anymore.

In fact, that’s the first tip I’d pass on. Take a really hard look at the amount of waste your business is generating and question how you can reduce it. The good news is that if you minimise unnecessary waste, it can boost your bottom line too. One area I’d recommend putting under the spotlight is your colour services. If you imagine a tube of tint costs around £15 and a quarter of that is being wasted by mixing up too much, your team could be pouring £3 down the plughole – and creating unnecessary pollution at the same time. The answer to this is surprisingly simple. Encourage your team to mix as they go and avoid overestimating how much colour they’ll need.

It’s the same with foils. There’s a criminal amount of wastage related to this necessary but nonetheless non-eco-friendly material. While aluminium is recyclable, it is a tricky process made harder still after it’s come into contact with chemicals. Train your team to cut foils to size depending on hair length – not one size fits all. I’ve also seen colourists use folds that are far too big. Trust me, going back to smaller folds and custom cutting your foils to size are small measures that will reduce the amount of foil your salon uses significantly. You must educate your team on these easy wins and then follow up to make sure they’re taking them on board.

We try to do our bit at Smith England by recycling everything that we can – even the coffee pods that we use in the hot drink dispenser. Not all the measures will be things that your clients will see and while it can take some extra effort, if you’re organised in your processes there’s really no excuse not to be more conscious about what you’re throwing away.

Products are another key area for pinpointing when opting for more sustainable choices. The big manufacturers are taking steps towards greener solutions, but the benchmark needs to be higher. As well as being a salon owner, I also have two product ranges. I took the decision a couple of years ago to make them more eco-friendly. It makes the process more costly, but the days of endless plastic production are over. If your suppliers aren’t doing enough already, take them to task – they need to be held accountable.

This year alone, since my Phil Smith Be Gorgeous brand switched to PCR (post-consumer recycled plastic) I have saved over 21.8 tonnes of virgin plastic being created. I’m a tiny brand, so just imagine what the big players could do if pressured by all salon owners. It’s not good enough to be stocking ranges in bottles that are destined for landfill. Recycled and recyclable packaging is a must. Put pressure on your reps to switch to PCR or refillable alternatives.

Water and energy consumption are two key areas that create an environmental burden for salons. Later this year, we’ll be replacing all our basins with sensor taps that that turn on only when being held, which cuts down on water wastage. Due to health and safety regulations post-COVID, we traded our traditional cotton towels to an eco-friendly alternative. More hygienic, but also biodegradable, eco towels cut down on the cost and up to 50 per cent of the energy consumption of endless laundry. We won’t be reverting back. Don’t underestimate the simple ‘switches’ you can make too. Turning off lights in unoccupied rooms or opting for motion sensors will save energy and money on your bills.

It’s great that you want to implement as many measures as you can to make your salon more environmentally conscious. I’d honestly say that it is worth the effort and be reassured that the small amount of extra cost is being spent on things that really do matter. Rather than thinking you can’t afford it, I’d say you can’t afford not to.

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