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Creating a Sustainable Hair Salon

hair salon making changes to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly by reducing waste and water usage

Making your hair salon more sustainable and eco-friendly is good for the planet as well as profitability! Environmentally friendly practices can help your salon reduce costs while attracting a large and growing audience of salon clients who care about sustainability.

Here’s how to make your salon more sustainable, with actionable tips for salons of all sizes.

Reduce Waste

Managing your salon waste - specifically, how much of your waste goes to landfills - is one of the easiest ways to cut costs while reducing your impact on the environment.

Avoid disposable products

  • Eliminate single-use plastic water bottles
  • Set up a filtered water system for cold and hot water, and provide reusable cups and mugs (most people have a reusable tumbler, so encourage staff & clients to use them!)
  • Replace plastic utensils in the break room with real silverware
  • Use refillable pens
  • Opt for biodegradable/compostable disposables when they can’t be avoided

Dispose of toxic chemicals responsibly

  • Many hair dyes, bleaches, straightening products and perms/relaxers have chemicals like ammonia, formaldehyde and thioglycolic acid which are bad for the environment
  • Look for manufacturer take back programs, hazardous waste collection programs and salon waste recycling services that dispose of them properly to prevent water pollution

Go Paperless

  • Ditch paper and digitize your booking, payments and marketing
  • Square Appointments is one of many options for salons going paper-free (new customers can get a special offer through our link)
  • If you truly need to use paper, choose recycled content paper products
digital booking & payment POS system reduces paper for improved salon sustainability

Find a limited-time offer on Square Salon Software for new customers

Invest in Eco-Friendly Salon Equipment

sustainable hair salon with lots of plants, natural light and high-quality salon furniture

Shop high-quality salon chairs made from durable materials

sustainable hair salon shampoo area with premium equipment and reusable produt containers

Shop high-quality shampoo stations built to last

styling station in eco-friendly hair salon

Shop high-quality salon stations designed for an extended service life

Why reducing salon waste matters: A 2023 study from Green Circle Salons found that as a whole, the salon industry in the US and Canada alone generates 877 pounds of waste every minute, including excess hair color, hair clippings and metal.

Recycle Hair Clippings

When hair clippings decompose inside of plastic bags in landfills they generate greenhouse gasses - but there are multiple ways to reuse and recycle salon hair clippings!

Hair clippings can be composted and turned into fertilizer for gardens, turned into mats used to deter pests, and used to create hair “booms” to prevent the spread of oil spills. Green Circle Salons, TerraCycle, Glo and other organizations offer hair recycling programs.

Recycle Salon Supplies & Other Materials

  • Look for local recycling programs (typically found on city and state websites) and start recycling all eligible materials
  • Partner with an organization such as Green Circle Salons, TerraCycle, Glo, SalonCentric (and many others) to recycle salon waste that can’t be recycled locally

Why recycling in hair salons matters: Green Circle Salon’s report found that only 14% of hair salons have tried a beauty waste recycling program, and lack of awareness is one of the top reasons why not. Increasing the number of salons recycling beauty waste adds up to a big impact, and you can be part of that change!

Switch to Sustainable Products

Sustainable salon products aren’t just better for the environment, they’re better for the health of your staff and clients, and support ethical labor practices.

  • Partner with a brand of sustainable salon products that aligns with your services and brand - Green Circle Salon’s affiliate partners directory is one place to start
  • Cruelty-free vegan hair care products require less water to manufacture, are more likely to use sustainable packaging, and minimize use of harmful chemicals
  • Use biodegradable cleaning products in your salon - Prevention RTU Disinfectant Cleaner and Prevention RTU Disinfectant Wipes are EPA registered and biodegradable - plus they kill pathogens in under a minute!
  • Use eco-friendly salon floor mats that are non-toxic, latex free and safe for the environment
  • Replace paper towels with reusable microfiber cleaning cloths (if you still need paper towels, get the unbleached kind made with post-consumer recycled paper)
  • Connect with suppliers committed to sustainability and eco-friendly practices (carbon neutral shipping, recyclable/minimal packaging, etc)

Why sustainable hair care products matter: According to Scientific American, traditional hair dyes and other hair care products have harmful synthetic chemicals that harm waterways, soil quality and even our own bloodstreams. This study found that harmful chemicals found in common hair care products have adverse effects on individuals as well as the entire ecosystem, including marine life.

Provide Refillable Containers

If your salon sells retail products, start a salon refill product program to reduce waste and offer lower product costs to your clients!

reception area in eco friendly hair salon with sustainable products for sale

Shop the Etowah 5ft. Reception Desk and the Apalachee Retail Display (both made from reclaimed wood) to showcase your eco-friendly products

Improve Energy Efficiency

Whether you own or rent your space there are ways to reduce energy consumption, which means spending less on energy bills and promoting more eco-friendly operations.

  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED lighting, and make the most of natural light with mirrors
  • Use energy-efficient blow dryers
  • Invest in appliances with an Energy Star rating (furnace, water heater, air conditioner, refrigerator)
  • Pair a smart thermostat with your HVAC system to enhance energy efficiency even more
  • Use ceiling fans year round to maximize the efficiency of your climate control
  • Install energy efficient windows to greatly reduce energy lost by heating and cooling, and seal up any drafts
  • Use UV-blocking window film if you have windows that let in a lot of heat from sunlight in summer months (and spend less running your air conditioner)
  • Reach out to your local energy provider to help you assess & reduce energy consumption - many also allow you to opt in to renewable energy sources
  • Install solar panels

Why energy efficiency matters: According to the EPA, small businesses can cut utility costs by 10-30% without sacrificing comfort or quality of service!

sustainable salon using LED lamps and natural lights to reduce energy consumption

Shop the Waverly Double Sided Sayling Station with Round Mirror and the Avant Shampoo System with White Bowl for a clean & timeless look

Use Less Water

Hair salons use a significant amount of water, but there are plenty of water-saving practices that can reduce your salon’s environmental impact:

  • Find and fix leaks and drips - hire a professional plumber if you need to. Small leaks add up to big water waste over time.
  • Use an Energy Star certified washing machine - high-efficiency washers use less water and less energy!
  • If your salon has a kitchenette or break room, consider a high-efficiency dishwasher (which is more sanitary and uses much less water than hand washing)
  • Install water-saving toilets or tank inserts that make traditional toilets more efficient
  • Use ECOHEADS spray nozzles in your shampoo stations to reduce water and energy use by as much as 65%!

Why conserving water matters: Water treatment and production takes energy - when demand for water decreases, you’re shrinking your water bill and your salon’s carbon footprint at the same time.

ECOHEADS Partners with Minerva Beauty

To help the beauty industry move towards greater sustainability, Minerva Beauty offers the unique ECOHEADS salon spray nozzle, which filters impurities and boosts pressure while still conserving water.

Designed in 2012 by two childhood friends, one being an award-winning hairdresser in Sydney Australia, ECOHEADS was crafted specifically for the fast-paced salon environment. The salon spray nozzle is the first of its kind to deliver BOTH improved water pressure and reduced water usage.

At the same time, it cleanses the water using a two-step filtration process, ensuring you are rinsing with clean water that has the added benefit of tourmaline, which introduces negative ions to the water.

The ECOHEADS Sprayer is also on display at Minerva Beauty’s showroom located in Monroe, Georgia (the largest salon equipment showroom in North America). “We are determined to make it easier and cost-effective for salons, spas and barbershops to become more sustainable,” said Jay Rawl, President and CEO at Minerva Beauty.

“At Minerva Beauty, we monitor innovations carefully, so when we see something that improves not only the client experience but also a salon’s efficiency while cutting costs, we move quickly to ensure our customers benefit. Easy to install on almost any shampoo bowl, the ECOHEADS Sprayer delivers immediate improvement in water quality and client experience. ECOHEADS is a giant step forward towards a prosperous, more sustainable future for our industry.”

“We are delighted to work with the Minerva Beauty team to offer the ECOHEADS upgrade to their customers,” said Valorie Tate, from ECOHEADS North America.

“To date, the ECOHEADS community has saved over 5.5 billion gallons of water to date and contributed toward building a well in El Salvador through our Save Water Give Water campaign; an achievement over three years in the making. We know this partnership with Minerva will accelerate the positive impact the beauty industry is making on the planet and its people.”

You can upgrade any shampoo sink or shampoo system with the ECOHEADS nozzle!

Embrace Eco-Friendly Interior Design

Eco-friendly interior design focuses on creating spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally responsible. Here are some easy ways to prioritize sustainability in your next salon refresh:

  • Use low-VOC or zero-VOC paint to reduce or eliminate VOC emissions. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals found in many traditional paints that can evaporate into the air at room temperature, causing indoor air pollution and potential health risks.
  • Look for vintage decor that fits your vibe instead of buying new
  • Seek out locally-made art for your salon, which has a smaller carbon footprint than mass-produced pieces
  • Choose furnishings made from repurposed or recyclable materials, like our reclaimed wood salon furniture collection
  • Add plants to your salon: they clean the air and create a relaxing environment

Why eco-friendly salon design matters: Sustainable design practices, like choosing green, sustainable and fair trade (GSFT) products for interior design, reduce emissions and resource use.

environmentally friendly hair salon with wall paneling, decor and furniture made from sustainable materials

Shop the Seminole Retail Display made from reclaimed wood, and the Avery Shampoo System with White Bowl, available in 7 colors to complement your eco-friendly decor

Promote Eco-Friendly Habits

Make the most of your eco-friendly salon project by educating people and making it as easy as possible to join in sustainability efforts.

  • Get your team on board: include your staff in discussions about the importance of sustainability, the measures you plan to take, and ask them for their ideas, too!
  • Educate your clients: whenever you start a new initiative, like switching to LEDs or recycling hair clippings, inform your clientele so they can feel good about supporting a sustainable business
  • Make it easy for people to participate: place salon waste recycling containers where they’ll be most convenient
  • Install motion sensors for lighting in places like a storage room, laundry room or bathroom so no one has to remember to turn the lights off when they leave

Why eco-education matters: Working as a team helps normalize and promote sustainable practices.

sustainable hair salon with eco-friendly interior design and eco-conscious hair products on display in shampoo area

Kevin Murphy hair products use recyclable or biodegradable packaging and are made from only natural ingredients harvested in a sustainable way

Market Your Message

Clients vote with their dollars, and more of them are choosing to support salons that demonstrate eco-friendliness. Let them know where to find you!

  • Become a certified sustainable salon through Green Circle Salons or a similar organization and show up in their directory
  • Share your sustainability initiatives on your website, social media, advertising and any other marketing channels you use
  • Look for opportunities to reach eco-conscious new clients, for example by applying for a booth at a local farmer’s market
  • Participate in or sponsor local environmental clean-up events, tree planting activities, or other green projects
  • Create a community by connecting with other eco-conscious businesses in your city
  • Invite feedback from customers on your sustainability practices and share how you’re continuously striving to improve

Why becoming a sustainable hair salon matters: Green Circle Salons partnered with a media company on a study that found:

  • 72% of hair salon clients said they care what happens to salon waste
  • 60% of hair salon clients said they’d consider changing salons to have waste managed more responsibly
  • 88% of salon professionals said it’s important to work in a green and sustainable environment

3 Examples of Hair Salons Practicing Sustainable Beauty

Minerva Beauty recognizes and appreciates the industry’s shift towards sustainable beauty, and we admire all of the salon professionals taking on a greener approach.

Below are just a few of many Minerva customers who are making a positive impact on the environment by practicing sustainable beauty in their salons.

interior of The Hive Salon, a sustainable hair salon that reduced waste by 95%

The Hive Salon: Minneapolis, Minnesota
The salon industry can co-exist with being environmentally friendly, and The Hive Salon is here to prove it. Through extensive research and a drive to elevate their standards of what they used on themselves and their clients, The Hive Salon found safer alternatives to traditional salon services and discovered products that are 100% plant based. As a partner of Greencircle Salons, they’ve reduced their salon’s waste by 95% as well as ways to reduce waste generated throughout the industry. Bound by the philosophy of giving great hair without being an excessive burden to the planet, The Hive and their diverse range of hairdressers are making both a positive impact on the environment and the beauty industry as a whole.

interior of Prime + Process sustainable hair salon with an eco-friendly heating system

Prime + Process Hair Lounge: Lakewood, Ohio
Prime + Process Hair Lounge takes pride in doing their part to protect the environment and practices sustainable beauty on a daily basis. Through the use of their eco-fueled clean burning fireplace, Prime + Process is able to create a warm ambiance in the salon, pollutant-free. While you’re enjoying this salon’s clean atmosphere, relax and have a cappuccino without the waste of a plastic pod. Along with recycling everything they can, Prime + Process avoids using plastic water bottles, paper towels, and other disposables. Making just a few eco-friendly changes can go a long way, and we appreciate this salon’s dedication to protecting the environment!

interior of Goldie & Reds Salon, a sustainable hair salon that uses eco-friendly hair products in biodegradable packaging

Goldie & Reds Salon: Defiance, Ohio
With their tagline of ‘Sustainable Beauty’, this little hair house in Defiance, Ohio has a mission to provide modern services with an eco-friendly approach. They are known for rocking balayage and vivids and can create these hair masterpieces while avoiding harsh chemicals. How is this possible? Goldie & Reds is a Kevin Murphy salon, which means they use only Kevin Murphy products. This line of hair products is created using only natural, organic ingredients from sustainable and renewable sources. Kevin Murphy products also utilize recyclable and biodegradable packaging in an ongoing effort to further protect the environment. Goldie & Reds continues mastering the art of beauty, while doing their part preserving the natural beauty of the world we live in.

Keep reading to learn how to complement your salon sustainability efforts with nature-led hues, and get inspired with these stories of salon success shared with Minerva Beauty.

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