“PLASTIC IS FOREVER”
We are all aware of the impact that plastic is having on our environment and our food chain from seeing documentaries on television. But what can we do in the day to day running of a business to reduce our plastic use and unrecyclable waste?
HOW DID THE PLASTIC PROBLEM START?
Plastic production started in the 1950’s and ever since then plastic waste has been building up in our cities, countrysides, oceans and indeed in our bodies! It has now been scientifically proven that fish routinely absorb plastic when eating, so it ends up in our food chain. The main source of this is tiny plastic microbeads and microfibres that are so minute that they cannot be filtered out of water waste before it is disposed of via our sewerage system.
Greenpeace states that worldwide, only 9% of plastic is recycled, 12% is burnt and that leaves a staggering 79% that ends up in our landfill sites or the environment! Everywhere on earth now suffers this pollution – even remote areas – and the richer countries like the UK, US and Canada offload their trash to poorer parts of the world such as Africa and Asia!
This is a major issue that needs to be addressed by all the nations of the world and we are only a very tiny part of that, but we can help to stop this problem from growing by adjusting the way we run our homes and our businesses in our everyday lives
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
There are lots of small changes that we can make to our salons to reduce our waste.
Where possible we need to think of PRECYCLING rather than RECYCLING, so not producing so much waste, rather than producing it and disposing of it in a good way. Avoiding one-use products is the key to becoming more sustainable.
So here are a few small changes that you might be able to implement:
- Source environmentally friendly hair products – shampoos, conditioning treatments and even colour – for your salon. Suppliers such as Devines provide environmentally friendly products in refillable bottles.
- Ensure your gowns and towels are made of natural fibres. When you next purchase these items, try to find ones using mostly cotton – 64% of new fabrics are now made of plastic and when we wash them they shred millions of plastic microfibres which can pass straight from our washing machines, through treatment plants and into the sea.
- Try to avoid using disposable plastic cups and instead, consider paper cups that can be recycled. Even better, get your staff to bring a water bottle to work, provide refills for them and spread this message to your customers too.
Use paper bags for retail prodcuts, or better still ask your customers if they are happy not to have a bag.
- Ensure you have recycling bins available for salon waste and recycle as much as you can.
- Recyclable and reusable face shields and masks are available from suppliers on Amazon and many UK manufacturers. Local councils do not provide recycling for PPE, but there are some private companies who will recycle face masks / shields for you such as Terracycle, but they do charge for their services.
- Plastic free toilet paper! We all know that toilet paper often comes in plastic wrapping – so we can avoid that – but even the actual toilet paper often has plastic in it! But there are suppliers such as Who Gives a Crap, Ecoleaf and Greencane who provide recyclable, plastic free toilet paper which can be ordered online. Even using your local supermarket brand recycled toilet paper can help.
- Switch to eco-friendly cleaning supplies. Companies such as Astonish provide low-price cleaning products that are both environmentally friendly and cruelty-free. Many of their products cost around one pound and they can be bought via shops such as Asda, Morrisons, B&M, Poundland and the Co-op.
- Eco-friendly power suppliers: when you next review your electricity (or gas) bills and look at the available tariffs, most suppliers now have environmentally friendly options, where they are working to offset their carbon footprint.
- Make sure you dispose of electrical equipment such as hairdryers and washing machines following your local government’s guidelines as many electrical items end up in landfill.
So now you can make a few easy changes to your salon that show that you are looking out for the environment. Letting your clients know what you are doing and asking for their input is a good way to build on this and to source local information on small businesses and suppliers that may be able to benefit you with their products and services.
Here are links to a few websites that can help you to become a more sustainable salon and reduce your dependence on plastics: