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Ten tips for a safe and sustainable post-lockdown salon experience.

Sustainable Salon Practices Black and White Image of Salon
Sustainable Salon Practices Barbers Razor in Jar


The environmental impact of COVID-19 is still largely unknown; whilst there have been reports of reduced air pollution, there has also been a surge in plastic waste due to increased use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves. As the first tentative steps are being taken towards recovery, salons will want to continue to manage their environmental impacts. That’s why we’ve produced this quick guide for a safe and sustainable post-lockdown salon experience.

Rather than commiserate on the downside of the new normal, we want to encourage salons to see how this moment presents an opportunity for more commitment, more ambition and more action – never let a crisis go to waste!

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Protective gloves are often made from vinyl and other synthetic materials which are not biodegradable. Latex (natural rubber), whilst more natural, is often associated with unsustainable harvesting practices – looking for alternatives can help save the planet:

  • Make sure that the natural rubber is sourced from a responsibly managed plantation, e.g. FSC Certified
  • When choosing biodegradable gloves, it is important to pay attention to information about how long these take to degrade and under what conditions, so that they can be disposed of correctly and degrade as intended
  • Some manufacturers offer dedicated recycling schemes for their gloves – remember to check the options in your local area
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As all clients will need to wear a mask, salons – in the interest of sustainability – should always ask clients to bring their own. However, the salon should provide a back-up just in case! Here’s how to do it sustainably:

  • Some clients may require or prefer new and sealed masks, but salons should at least offer sustainable options, such as locally sourced, re-usable cloth masks that are washed after each use. New and sealed masks can be offered as for-sale options for clients to keep after their visit
  • The salon logo alongside a smart claim, i.e. keep the sea plastic-free can help nudge clients to choose the sustainable option
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Capes have always been part of salon life, however, due to stricter hygiene protocols, salons may want to turn to single-use capes made from sustainable materials:

  • As re-usable capes will need to be washed after each use, which consumes a lot of water and energy, 100% biologically degradable single-use capes made from bioplastic (e.g. cornstarch) are a sustainable alternative
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In instances where single-use PPE is unavoidable, considering the proper disposal of products is key, for example:

  • TerraCycle offers an innovative way of efficiently recycling even hard-to-recycle items, such as single-use PPE. Customers receive a collection box, fill it with their hard-to-recycle waste and, once full, schedule a collection to ship items back for safe recycling using the pre-paid shipping label
Face Shield Icon


Choose a salon safety precaution that is sustainable too, options include:

  • Disposable and recyclable: select an option where the frame is made from solid biodegradable cardboard, and the visor window uses an anti-mist treated recyclable polyester material. Remember: the film window should be removed from the cardboard frame and recycled separately
  • Plastic-free: look for plastic-free face shields that are made from recyclable and compostable material, such as wood pulp and cellulose. When ordering these items in bulk also consider sharing with local businesses to further minimise environmental impacts as well as operational costs
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As is the case with beverages, disinfectants also offer ample opportunity to get creative, for example:

  • Several small distilleries have changed their production and can supply salons with disinfectant, which can be decanted in the salon and used for disinfecting hands and salon tools
  • Locally sourced options aren’t always available at suitable price points, so salons may also look towards refillable glass hand-sanitiser bottles and other plastic-free refills as alternatives to regular sanitisers that often come in small, plastic bottles
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Current guidance recommends using disposable cloths or paper roll when cleaning potentially infected surfaces, and hairdressers may opt for recycled and recyclable options such as compostable cleaning cloths, ideally coming in plastic-free and recyclable packaging:

  • Read the labels on cleaning products carefully to choose environmentally friendly products and ensure your salon is a safer and healthier environment
  • Buy in bulk or use refill options to minimise packaging material and delivery/transportation emissions
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Aside from the masks and gloves themselves, a fundamental first step is considering the materials used to package PPE: the usage of 100% post-consumer waste and/or 100% recycled material within glove packaging, for example, is a key sustainable process along its distribution path.

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It is unlikely salons will be able to provide their full drinks menu for quite some time, however, there are creative options when it comes to sourcing sustainable drink options:

  • Try recyclable canned drinks (remember these can be healthy options too!)
  • Work with local independent businesses as suppliers wherever possible
  • Rather than being offered single-use plastic water bottles, encourage clients to bring their own water bottles
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Single-use towels can be used to replace regular salon towels as they encompass many benefits:

  • Disposable towels reduce the water and energy consumption of washing them after each use and also ensure there is no cross-contamination. Often, single-use towels are also more absorbent than regular towels, reducing blow-drying time


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