Guest Writer 300

Here’s how your beauty business can reduce its environmental impact

By Guest Writer | 14 April 2022 | Expert Advice, Feature, Sustainability & the environment

Hands Globe Eco

Victoria Brownlie, chief policy officer at the British Beauty Council shares guidance to support eco efforts in the beauty sector…

While most people are committed to working more sustainably, I have noticed a real disconnect between where world leaders, governments, NGOs and big business see challenges, compared to the average person, small salon owner or self-employed worker.

This is not to say any one of those groups is at fault, however while the average person is aware that we are approaching a global crisis, few understand how they can make a difference to turn the situation around. No one has been able to keep it simple, mainly because the topic itself is so complicated.

Is plastic the enemy? Should I just stop using products with palm oil? Is recycling the key to everything?

How do I know if the products I use are harming the environment? Are there environmentally friendly alternatives of the same quality?

The British Beauty Council’s Planet Positive Beauty Guide can help demystify some of these questions. But what about how you are working right now? Where do salons or individual freelancers start in evaluating their business’s impact on the environment and how to reduce it?

The SME Climate Hub is a UN-backed initiative, working with small and medium-sized businesses in the Race to Zero. Its aim is to help businesses reduce their carbon emissions by offering tools and resources to help SMEs take concrete steps towards climate action. These include:

  1. Committing and setting a target to reducing carbon emissions
  2. Measuring and reporting emissions
  3. Building a business strategy
  4. Reducing your own emissions
  5. Reducing your supply chain emissions

Start asking questions. Ask your suppliers how they are reducing their emissions, as this could prompt them to take action and may give you new ideas. Try having a conversation about reducing environmental impact with each of your suppliers at least once in the next three months.

While the journey to net zero emissions can seem overwhelming, we all need to recognise that we will only make progress if everyone gets involved.

After all, 90% of the world’s businesses are considered small and medium enterprises. We, as an overwhelmingly SME industry, must therefore be part of the solution.

By signing up to the SME Climate Hub pledge, it demonstrates that we as an industry are committed to adapting not only our personal habits, but also our business practices as part of the race to net-zero. This is especially important to when it comes to our client base; as shown in the British Beauty Council’s 2020 Courage to Change Report, which highlighted that 90% of Gen Z consumers expect businesses to do more to help reduce climate impact and improve the state of the world.

A common misconception is that being more sustainable is expensive, and that this is a particular barrier as businesses recover from the effects of the pandemic. However, small businesses that choose to invest in reducing their emissions can see numerous short and long-term business advantages, including:

  • Improved efficiency and reduced operating costs
  • Lower business risk in the future
  • Enhanced access to capital and affordable insurance
  • More robust supply chains

I encourage you to take a look at the SME Climate Hub and consider how you can take steps to reduce your impact, both personally and as a business, on the planet.

You can also sign up for updates from the Sustainable Beauty Coalition (SBC), with interesting articles and case studies from businesses taking their own journeys towards sustainability.

As was the intention of COP26 and is highlighted by the work of the SBC, sharing the burden on this issue will be the key to its success. Start talking with friends and colleagues, other salons owners, technicians and business owners and see where you can help each other. Normalise these conversations, share ideas, initiatives and successes, so that we can really start turning this mountain into a molehill.