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Explained: Circular economy for salons

By Green Salon Collective | 09 September 2022 | Expert Advice, Feature, Sustainability & the environment

Reduce Reuse Recycle

Green Salon Collective (GSC) was founded in 2020 by environmental experts, campaigners and beauty professionals, with an aim to help member salons in the UK and Ireland to responsibly dispose of their waste. In this blog, GSC details what a circular economy is and how beauty businesses can help to achieve one.

Traditionally, humans have taken or extracted materials from the natural world, often causing great harm to ecosystems and wildlife. Then, we make materials, products and packaging that we use – in many cases just once. When we feel we no longer want or need things, we simply throw them ‘away’. This is the take-make-waste model of a linear economy and is unquestionably outdated.

Our current linear economy is causing large-scale and sometimes irreparable harm to our planet, and thus to people and animals.

Some of the environmental issues arising from this system are resource scarcity, biodiversity loss and mass extinction, plastic pollution, environmental degradation, global warming and climate change. Social issues arising from it include poverty, inequality, job insecurity, poor working conditions, poor access to clean water and sanitation, and lack of access to quality education.

One of the most troubling things about the climate crisis is that the people and animals with little or no involvement in causing these issues are often those that are most affected.

What does a circular economy look like?

A circular economy is based on reducing consumption, waste and pollution through better design of materials, products and packaging. It also practices to ensure the return of those goods back into the system, where they can be reusedrepaired or recycled.

The five Rs of a circular economy, according to MeetthefiveRs, are:

Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Repair – Return

At its core, a circular economy involves keeping goods ‘in the loop’ for as long as possible, if not indefinitely. Ideally, beauty and hair businesses and salons can create their own closed loop systems to eliminate the need for virgin or non-renewable materials, resources and energy. A circular economy also looks to regenerate natural ecosystems and repair the damage inflicted by the linear economy.

Examples of the five Rs in action

Reduce: Reducing salon towel waste by using one towel per client visit.

Reuse: Investing in sturdy and reusable, rather than disposable, tools and equipment.

Recycle: Sending plastic packaging waste to local recyclers through Green Salon Collective, so they can transform it into valuable products for the industry.

Repair: Investing in equipment whose manufacturers allow for repair and regular maintenance.

Return: Ensuring the return of used materials (a.k.a. waste) to reliable recycling businesses like GSC.

To learn more about the five Rs, click here.

What you can do

There is no such thing as ‘waste’ in natural ecosystems. One organism’s waste inevitably becomes food for another. Life on our planet has evolved in this way in near-perfect balance for millions of years, and we would do well to take note. It is Green Salon Collective’s challenge to find ways to transform waste into valuable materials for other processes, and so remove the need for landfill and eradicate pollution.

Businesses in particular have a crucial role to play in making the circular economy a reality. This starts with looking at exactly what is going into your business and what goes out. Input can include products, packaging, energy and water. Output can include plastics, food waste, electronics and chemicals.

Visit Green Salon Collective’s websiteFacebook and Instagram accounts and learn about the solutions it offers for your beauty business. Or email to book a free session with a representative.

This article was written by GSC’s project manager, Jess Rigg.