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July 09, 2021

Have you ever sat at your hair appointment and noticed the amount of hair on the floor? or where all the aluminium foil and plastic bottles end up?!

A waste-free hair salon model...

Salons who are part of the Sustainable Salons network understand that resources are precious and set themselves apart by ensuring 'waste' is separated inside the salon to enhance recyclability. This includes hair salons, barbers, dermal clinics, and even pet salons across Australia and New Zealand!

These legends have worked out how to help salons level up their sustainability by collecting and repurposing their leftover hair, metal, paper, ponytails, chemicals, cardboard, glass, tools, plastic waste, and more. Salons that partner with them can divert 95% of their waste from landfill. Keep on reading to find out what they turn this 'waste' into!

Their positive impact doesn't stop there...

They partner with disability workers through Mylestones (Qld), Mambourin (Vic), Workpower (WA), and Kilmarnock (NZ) to provide jobs in their material and processing facilities. Providing a purposeful role that's part of the solution to salon waste alongside a real income. On top of this they also provide thousands of haircuts and meals to people in need each year.

How this waste-free mission began...

In Australia, one million kilograms of aluminium foil from hair salons go to landfill each year.This is where it started for founders Paul Frasca and Ewelina Soroko, they were shocked by this figure knowing themselves that aluminium foil is a precious resource that is infinitely recyclable. 

As they started collecting salon waste they found that foil made up 50% of the items in the bin. They launched Refoil, a circular foil product that is used, recycled, and used again and again by salons (genius).

Convincing people to purchase Refoil was difficult because consumers weren't aware of the problem. So they set off selling the problem and encouraging people to be part of the solution. They used a simple attention-grabbing message... 'how big are your balls?' to remind salons that aluminium foil can be recycled in most recycling systems if you scrunch it into a ball the size of a golf ball. Yeah, that's right, you can do this at home too, simply collect it in a glass jar and when you have enough, scrunch it into a ball! See our other recycling tips here.

By partnering with sustainable salons, salons are helping the environment and receiving a financial benefit at the same time. How? Sustainable Salons currently directs 3,000 consumers a month to listings on their directory, which has resulted in the growth of $30 - $40,000 for featured businesses each year.

What do they do with the items they collect?

They collect and sell foil, colour tubes, spray cans, and even metals from salon tools, 100% of these proceeds are donated to Ozharvest and KiwiHarvest. $1 = 2 meals and they have donated 143,000 meals so far.

The Sustainable Salons Impact

They service over 1,000 locations in Australia and New Zealand, speak to 3 million customers through their network, and employ 61 staff, 35% have a disability, intending on raising this to 50% within the next year.

Over 20,000 wheelie bins of materials have been diverted from landfill and given a second life, including:

  • 90,000+ ponytails to make wigs for cancer and alopecia sufferers. They are the largest collector of ponytails for the medical wig market in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • 140,000kg+ of plastic packaging is being circulated and made into various products, including Dresden Glasses made in Australia from recycled shampoo bottles, outdoor furniture, and even dog leash handles.
  • 188,000kg+ of metals (including foil) have been diverted from landfills and sold for recycling.
  • 28,000kg+ of hair collected from the floors was repurposed into 'bollards' that soak up oil in coastline oil spills (amazing?!), fertiliser, water filtration, and technology

On their journey they are saving sooo much waste from landfill, positively impacting thousands of lives, and providing economic growth for Australian industries.

Vote with your dollar (and locks) and find your nearest Sustainable Salon partner here.

This story makes me warm and fuzzy inside, I want to hug them! Share with your friends and family so they can support this amazing initiative.

If you want to level up your individual impact, check out our blog on how to transition to a zero-waste shampoo bar.


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