How Does Hairdressing Affect the Environment?
Mar 25 2019
When it comes to the industries responsible for the biggest detrimental impact on the environment, hairdressing is hardly one that springs to mind. And while your local salon may not compete with the transportation, energy or agricultural industries in terms of emissions and carbon footprints, it can still have an outsized effect on our planet - especially since there are billions of amateur hairdressers practicing their own form of the profession at home every day.
Whether it’s your personal bath or shower or your monthly cut and blow-dry at the hairdressers, the amount of water and energy that is consumed by the industry is far greater than an optimally sustainable scenario would entail… and that’s before the contamination of chemicals from shampoos and other grooming products is even taken into account!
Conservationism begins at home
It might surprise you to learn that 25% of all emissions in the UK come from residential sources, with the vast majority of those caused by heating water for cooking, cleaning and cups of tea. In fact, a standard 10-minute shower is equivalent to leaving the television on for 20 hours uninterrupted! Clearly, using too much hot water on ourselves could land our planet in hot water.
By tweaking your daily routine to use less shampoo, switch to a leave-in conditioner and spend less time under the showerhead, you could over 20 times less water and energy per annum (613 litres compared to 14,222 litres and 55kWh compared to 1,252kWh). Quite apart from the environmental benefits that a deviation in your daily habits would engender, you’d also experience incredible financial savings (an outlay of £27 per year compared to £245 per year).
Big savings for salons too
In recent years, professional hairdressers have also become cognisant of the huge savings that are to be made for both their balance sheet and Mother Earth. It is now possible to enrol in a sustainable stylist training course and attain a certificate endorsed by the Hair and Beauty Industry Association to display your credentials as an eco-conscious salon.
Again, the benefits of doing so are not just abstract ones. A research case study found that adopting the measures recommended by the course in question could save a typical four-chair salon as much as 286,000 litres of water and 24,150kWh of energy every year. Those reductions would translate into monetary savings of over £5,000, making a tangible difference to the profit margins of any hairdressing business.
Curbing chemical contamination
In addition to the environmental advantages of reduced water and energy consumption, hairdressers both professional and amateur can also reduce their impact through the discharge of harmful chemicals into the environment. Shampoos and conditioners are two particularly damaging culprits, both of which can be overused by those wishing to care for their hair and body.
Thankfully, the highly-dangerous microplastics contained in the microbeads of certain cosmetic products has now been outlawed by the UK government, but there are also eco-friendly brands of haircare which are kinder to the environment. Better yet, reducing the frequency with which you shampoo and condition your hair will not only benefit the planet, but also leave your hair in a healthier condition, as well.
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