Salon Furniture Goes Green

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Salon Furniture Goes Green

Etopa is a model for green business practices, manufacturing beautifully designed and environmentally friendly salon furniture in its zero-impact factory.

A cross the country, consumers are increasingly demanding environmentally friendly products, and the beauty industry is no exception. Salon furniture manufacturer Etopa heeds the call, producing a wide variety of designs made from sustainably farmed rubber wood in a zero-impact plant in Hainan, China.

Locals near Hainan, China, have been growing rubber trees for hundreds of years
Locals near Hainan, China, have been growing rubber trees for hundreds of years

"It's very important to us that we are completely sustainable, that we don't interfere with the planet at all," says Kristin Chou, vice president of Etopa. The process starts with the way the rubber wood is harvested and is based on a practice that has been going on in the area for hundreds of years, according to Chou. Locals grow rubber trees for the latex they produce, which can be harvested from a tree for 30 years. At that point the trees are cut down so that new ones can be planted, and Etopa buys the waste to produce its furniture, milling the wood on site. "We cut up the boards on site so that men don't have to leave their families to find jobs," Chou says. "We're really invested in making sure that the community stays together."

At Etopa's green factory in Hainan, locals use all of the byproducts created during manufacturing
At Etopa's green factory in Hainan, locals use all of the byproducts created during manufacturing

The milled wood is then taken to Etopa's nearby factory, which Chou describes as completely green, down to the bicycles filling the parking area. "Every byproduct from the manufacturing of the furniture is bagged at the end of the day, down to the sawdust, and placed outside, and it's taken by the locals every evening," she says. "They use the small pieces of wood to carve and make handicrafts, and they use the sawdust for fuel. Every piece of that tree is used within the community." The staining process is also ecologically sensitive. The furniture is stained in front of a water wheel; negative ions absorb any byproducts of the stain and then Etopa cleans the water. "And since we're already cleaning the water, we clean water for the entire village," Chou says.

An Etopa pedicure station at Lavender Hill Spasalon in Richmond Hill, GA.
An Etopa pedicure station at Lavender Hill Spasalon in Richmond Hill, GA.

All of these careful practices could be negated by the shipping process, as all furniture manufactured in China is then shipped to Etopa's headquarters in Hammond, LA. But the company works hard to make sure its goal of zero-impact manufacturing is a reality. "We offset our carbon footprint by going back into the villages, where we have invested in bio-gas digesting units," Chou says. "These units clean all of the water for a household and produce a completely green, safe fertilizer that they can use for their gardens."

Etopa's Jaden double-sided styling station
Etopa's Jaden double-sided styling station

Etopa's products include styling stations, manicure and pedicure units, mirrors and a color bar, all of which are available in a number of different finishes. So how are salon owners responding to Etopa's environmentally friendly approach to business? "Aesthetically, they're following what they're seeing in the consumer magazines," Chou says, "and what's hot in the design world is what's sustainable and green." —LOTUS ABRAMS