How your salon can save the environment: A spotlight on Sustainable Salons

Alex Davies-Parmenter
Alex Davies-Parmenter
Product Marketing at Timely
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While circumnavigating Australia, Paul Frasca and Ewelina Sorocko had lots of time to reflect on the future of their industry. After four months in the car (and a solid $7k petrol spend) the pair had a plan: to find a solution to the exorbitant waste that salons create in Australia.

And that’s exactly what they’ve done.

We’re all thinking it; how can a salon help save the environment when they’re readily contributing to plastic and toxic waste? Well, according to Paul Frasca, the owner of Sustainable Salons Australia, it’s not what we’re putting into our bins, it’s how. Paul (who is one of our wonderful contributors to the Salon Trends 2017 ebook – go take a look!) kindly got on the phone with us and answered some questions about SSA, and what it means to be sustainable.

What’s the story behind Sustainable Salons?

Ewelina and I created SSA 8 years ago after a very long drive around Australia – which, by the way, took 4 months and $7000 in petrol! We both still swear it’s the best adventure we’ve ever had.

The drive consisted of many long discussions about hairdressing sustainability, and whether there were products or services around that supported sustainability. We didn’t know. I still remember Ewelina saying to me “we need to study this more.”

As a true hairdresser, I was like: “CRAP!! Study!?”

We realised that salon waste had no place to go – except into landfill, or into a yellow council recycling bin.

That yellow bin is a funny thing. It was meant for residential use and shoved onto small business.

The problem with this is that generally, small businesses can’t actually put most of their waste in that bin, like hair or chemical waste, most plastic or fillers from product delivery.

And get this: they even tell hairdressers not to put their foil in the bin. Are they crazy? It’s aluminium!

On top of this, we also found out there was a real lack of transparency as to where the recycle bin waste was ending up. The same truck was picking up our waste and recycle bins. This is a confusing message! And it makes you wonder, what’s the point in trying?

So we set out to fix the salon waste problem, and create the greatest resource recovery service the world has ever seen! Sustainable Salons Australia was officially brought to life 2 years ago in New South Wales. We’re now active in ACT, Queensland and Victoria.

Sustainable Salons is able to recycle up to 95% of salon waste. Can you tell us more about what you’re recycling?

We go directly to the salon door to collect more than 95% of the salon’s waste fortnightly. We provide all in-salon bins and outside collection bins to suit their needs. And we have the sexiest recycle bins in town.

Sustainable salons australia

In addition to paper, razors and tools we collect:

Metals

Aluminium is infinitely recyclable. We divert all of a salon’s foil, aluminium colour tubes, canisters and product packaging from landfill back into recycled resources.

Hair

The hair swept up from the salon floor is transformed in hair booms. So when a client comes in to get a haircut, they’re potentially contributing to the clean-up of an oil spill in The Great Barrier Reef.

Ponytails

We’re the largest collector and donor of ponytails in Australia. We send them to Variety – The Children’s Charity to be made into wigs for children with alopecia and cancer.

Chemicals

Chemical waste is turned back into clean water used for manufacturing and building, rather than going down the drain and contaminating our oceans.

Plastics

Even plastic bags have a story. They’re all sent to an award-winning company called Plastic Forest who turn them into heavy-duty plastic walls that go underground to protect our NBN.

And more!

The (other) best part is that 100% of the profits from all of this recycled waste goes back into the community via OzHarvest. For every $1 donated, two meals are provided to hungry Australians.

What are the benefits for salons involved in this initiative?

We provide a whole range of marketing tools that can be used within the salon to build awareness with clients. We really want to blow their minds about this ambitious initiative their local salon is involved in.

At this stage, Sustainable Salons Australia provides around 2,000 meals per month

As a member, the salon has access to all of the Sustainable Salons Australia messaging, information, design collateral and branding, and community affiliations. This immediately improves the salon’s environmental credentials and helps them attract new clientele.

What about SSA makes you most proud?

For us, it’s about creating real change. What we’ve put in place with Sustainable Salons Australia is transparent, tangible and measurable. We’re not just about the message, we’re about real action. This has a positive impact on the environment, and it also translates into a significant business advantage for our clients.

We started on a journey to make salon waste history and it’s having a ripple effect.

What are the next steps for Sustainable Salons?

Our immediate goal is to cover territories across all major Australian cities, but our end game is to go one step further and make our program available to every single salon in Australia.

Hair booms are not the go-to solution for cleaning up oil spills yet, and we want to change this.

This means heading into regional areas, too – into Wagga Wagga and Broken Hill, Bendigo to Ballarat. We want no salon left out in the cold!

SSA is investing strongly in hair boom research and development at the University of Technology Sydney.

Our goal is to have a hair boom supply ready and waiting at each port Australia-wide, in the case of an emergency.

Sustainable salons australia

What’s it like being a Sustainable Salons Australia salon?

“We have attracted new clients to the salon because their friends have told them about Sustainable Salons Australia. I’m really proud that I am leading change in my industry. For me and my staff, it’s about creating a community of clients, stylist and colourists who care.”

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Katya Raccanello
Crysalis, Cooks Hill NSW

“The SSA program has made the Salon Team much more aware on how to reduce our carbon footprint. It has been received with amazing enthusiasm by our guests who think that it is incredible that just by having their hair done they are helping our community, whether it’s feeding the homeless or their cut hair being made into hair booms to be used in the case of an oil spill or wigs for kids with alopecia.”

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Brett McKinnon
The Murphy Gozzard Hair Community, Paddington NSW

How does a salon become a Sustainable Salons affiliate?

Head to the Sustainable Salons website and fill in the short form requesting a free consultation. Then you’re on the path!

We love the idea of spreading the word about environmental initiatives like Sustainable Salons Australia. At Timely, we’ve always believed that technology has the power to change the world for the better — that’s why we work from home, are almost entirely paperless, and created an app that lives in the cloud.

It’s a joy for us to work with Sustainable Salons, spreading the message that sustainability is not only important, it’s doable. We can’t wait to see it spread across the world. So if you can…go sign up!

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