Sustainable business practices for every salon: Part 1

Ammonia, bleaches, wax and dyes, oh my! Plastic bottles and aerosol sprays at every glance! All of those towels that have to be washed, using up water and electricity. Then there are those countless foils and hair clippings that end up in the trash every night. These are just some of the things that have an environmental impact when running a typical salon and spa.

Fortunately, there are many environmentally friendly business practices that can easily be incorporated into your salon or spa. If you haven’t yet jumped onto the green bandwagon, we hope this two-part series will inspire you and help you get started.

Green business by design

Many salons and spas are responding to the increased pressure to use sustainable products and adopt environmentally friendly operating standards. Refillable products, energy-saving washers and dryers, recycling programs and sourcing with a focus on organic and cruelty-free ingredients are just a few examples of the ways these businesses are choosing to be better stewards of the world in which they thrive.

It’s a movement that led to the creation of Green Circle Salons, a business that started in Canada and expanded into the U.S. to help salons reduce their waste through recycling programs that include everything from gloves and wax strips to excess chemicals. One of its clients, the Sapphire Hair Lounge, collected two weeks of hair clippings that were transformed into absorbent rolls called “hair booms” and used to soak up coastal oil spills, as reported by Allure magazine last year. 

Do better with hair dye

Hair dyes are full of all kinds of chemicals—some of which can be harmful, so some salons are switching to organic and natural hair dyes. Salons source color from suppliers like Original & Mineral, Natulique Organic Colours and Sante Herbal Hair Colours, Eluxe Magazine reports. Hair color also doesn’t have to go down the drain these days. For example, Salon Today reports that Studio Luxe out of Naperville, Illinois, worked with Green Circle Salons to recycle all the excess hair color that used to go into the sewer.

Clients often feel good about using green color, but the quality of the outcomes may not leave them feeling as good about how they look. Some organic products like henna do not always last as long or look as vibrant as traditional dyes. Unless these products can produce the same results as the color to which people have become accustomed, it can raise a professional liability concern. That said, we can hope the use of more organic products may eventually lead to a reduction in allergic reaction claims.  

Water use

American Salon reports that if everyone in the world used cold water in their washing machines, carbon emissions would be reduced by millions of tons each year. It also recommends using the washing machine only when there’s a full load. Also, replacing an old hot-water heater with an instant hot-water system will provide a constant supply of hot water and won’t waste energy heating it up. Fixing leaky faucets can also save hundreds of gallons of water each month. If you’re replacing that old washing machine or toilet with a new one, use a resource like Consumer Reports to score it for energy efficiency.

Using resources efficiently isn’t limited to being water-savvy. Our next post will look at how salons are conserving energy and recycling packing as well as hair clippings.

Kathy Lopez, Account Manager for SASSI, the Salon and Spa Specialty Insurance program at Brownyard Group. She can be reached at

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