Making a more sustainable business
Over more than two decades spent in the hair care industry, Selena Worthley has worked as a brand representative, account manager and educator. So when she took over Marion Hair + Beauty two years ago, she brought plenty of experience to the award-winning salon. But she also brought a desire to innovate, which is why she’s the first business owner in Marion to partner with Sustainable Salons, an organisation that repurposes and recycles salon waste and helps in the community.
“Most of the changes are staff related,” she explains. And with a team of 36 that includes stylists, beauticians, nail technicians and even a massage therapist, there’s plenty to learn. “They need to understand where everything goes - rather than all the waste just going in one bin, now they have to separate everything out.”
Once the new methods are implemented, 95% of the salon’s waste will be diverted from landfill, sometimes in ingenious ways. Emma Heffernan, the Business Development Manager for Sustainable Salons in South Australia explains that hair swept up off of the floor goes into a hair boom. “It’s basically a nylon stocking stuffed with all the hair we collect. That then goes into the ocean around Australia to absorb oil spills, so haircuts are literally now saving our oceans from oil pollution.”
Closer to home, ponytails are collected and turned into wigs for cancer and alopecia sufferers, and the numbers are staggering. In 2017 alone seven tonnes of hair was collected around the country, along with hundreds of tonnes of paper, plastic and metal. The metal is then sold and the proceeds are donated to Ozharvest, an organisation that collects unsold food and uses it to provide meals to people in need across the country. Last year, that translated into almost 50,000 meals provided for the homeless thanks to Sustainable Salons’ donations.
“People don’t realise once metal is in landfill it’s there forever. It never breaks down and foils are going there on a daily basis,” Emma says. “But now we can say that when you have your hair done by a Sustainable Salon, your foils are actually going to feed a homeless person.”
Words by Alex Buxton-Collins