Forward-Thinking Salons Share Eco-Friendly Tips

Becoming an eco-friendly salon can seem like a daunting task, but these salons—seen in "It's Easy Being Green" in our April issue—have more to share about how they took the plunge.

Stephanie Schmidt, Verde Salon, Chandler, AZ: Stephanie Schmidt, an  Organic Salon Systems Certified Colorist and Trainer, has also certified each of her stylists; they’re all preparing to become Master Colorists, demonstrating that with a little extra effort, organic styling and coloring is possible.

Because Schmidt built Verde from scratch, she had the chance to use eco-friendly materials, such as water-based paint, and most of the furniture is repurposed; her father built the front desk from recycled wood. From day to day, everything that can be is recycled, paper goods aren’t used and the salon has a certified energy-saving dishwasher and washing machine. In response this green mindset, Schmidt has seen many cancer patients or clients with compromised immune systems flock to her salon for the all-natural treatment.

Her advice to salons is don’t be afraid: Some may think organic products don’t work as well, won’t cover grays and won’t last, but Schmidt says that isn't so. “At Verde, we really have to go above and beyond because we have to know why the color works, what’s the pH; there’s different things that go into organic haircolor. You just have to be more attentive and careful.”

Darren Peña, Darren Peña Salon and Spa, Tampa, FL: Holding an artisan position with Pureology played a big part in Darren Peña's creation of a namesake, sustainable salon a year and a half ago. The product range offers 100% recycled bottles made from steam rather than water, Peña noted.

As far as the construction of the salon, Peña installed an energy box that regulates energy use; all lights are LED, which last longer than fluorescent bulbs; and the waiting area’s coffee table is recycled. A special bin is reserved for old magazines, which are recycled or donated to local schools for crafts, and the pedicure station features a biodegradable bin and doesn’t have automatic running water, which prevents overuse.

Pena recommends transitioning to green practices not only because it’s helpful for the environment but because he sees a drastic change in his expenses, especially the electric bill. While installing LED lights is a costly venture, it can save money over time by ultimately using less energy. Going paperless and investigating how water usage can be reduced in bathrooms and at sinks is also key, Peña said.

Steve McGrath, Headlines—The Washington Park Salon, Denver: As an Aveda Concept Salon, Headlines—The Washington Park Salon has been on an eco-friendly path for over 10 years, co-owner Steve McGrath said. The Denver Energy Challenge, a campaign to inform and educate local businesses about ways to cut energy costs, offered more opportunities, including rebates and grants, so  McGrath chose to change his lighting to the energy-efficient LED option. “The lighting was the biggest issue; being a salon, lighting is a critical factor and we went through a couple different styles of energy-efficient lights that we didn’t find acceptable,  finally choosing on LED. From start to finish, it took six months to become Denver's first Certified Green salon.”

Further opportunities existed through the Aveda Take-Back Program, which helps extend any local recycling initiatives. Denver takes about 85% of the packaging and products that Aveda provides to recycle, McGrath said, and the program is great for salons in cities that may not have an advanced recycling program. McGrath also worked with his landlord to create a more efficient and cleaner heating and cooling system by updating the filtration. For cleaning supplies, Headlines uses a vinegar and water solution for all mirrors, and at all sinks is the Aveda Rosemary Mint Hand and Body Wash; non-Aveda salons can find eco-friendly lotions, soaps and detergents, he said.

On Earth Day, Headlines hosts a cut-a-thon, where all proceeds go to a local nonprofit that Aveda chooses each year. The salon also hosts raffles to benefit green initiatives.

Courtney Romano, Pura Vida Salon, Braintree, MA: The first thing Courtney Romano did to transform Pura Vida Salon into an eco-friendly salon was talk to her local electric company about energy-efficient options. She also uses smaller neck towels to reduce laundry loads, green cleaning supplies and an energy-efficient washer, dryer and water heater. She teamed up with the local farmer’s market to hand out Pureology samples and coupons to the salon, targeting customers who are already eco-conscious.

Additionally, Pura Vida hosts a blow-dry boot camp and all earnings go to CrowdRise’s Green Schools Project Funds, which gives a school a green makeover. During Earth Month, $1 of every service is donated to The Nature Conservancy, which cleans up local parks and rainforests. These initiatives gave the salon an edge when it opened in September 2011 as Braintree’s premiere eco-friendly hair salon.

Pura Vida Salon in Braintree, MA

Verde Salon in Chandler, AZ