By Paul Frasca

People come up to Ewelina and I all the time to chat about sustainability, and more often than not, they’re surprised when the conversation steers away from the environment.

In the salon industry particularly, we’ve been lead to believe that if we just get rid of sulphates and parabens from our products, we’re fixing the problem. So I thought I’d take a moment here to debunk the ‘green-washing’ our industry has been guilty of for many years now. Sustainability is about so much more than a label on a bottle, and I know you’ll love it… stick with me here.

The best quote we’ve come across that truly gets to the guts of sustainability is from the Brundtland Report, published by the United Nations Commission on Environment and Development in 1987:

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

It doesn’t even mention phrases like “green”, “eco”, “environmentally-friendly”… all the buzzwords we’ve become so addicted to using when we talk about sustainability.

While the environment is certainly a huge part of building a sustainable future (and those phrases are necessary in our communication), there are two elements missing in most sustainability conversations – people and profit.

All people have the right to be able to support themselves and their families, and a genuinely sustainable community involves everyone having the means to do so. We can start to achieve this by sharing our time, skills and resources to help those who might just need a chance to step up and out of their situation.

And profit, the controversial one. The reality is that our economy does in fact make the world go around. In order to build strong, self-sufficient communities, we need to focus our energies on what’s fruitful – ethically-minded businesses that thrive and create employment, products that advance the human race without destroying our habitat, security for future generations to live in a world where quality of life is not luck of the draw, it comes standard.

With all three elements in mind – people, planet and profit – Ewelina and I created Sustainable Salons Australia (SSA).

It’s no secret that collectively our industry needs to do something about the Godzilla-sized footprint we make on the environment, so we’ve introduced sustainable alternatives, separating and repurposing for that. Before you even create waste, SSA gives you access to sustainably-minded product options to help you make greener choices when it comes to the everyday items you use in the salon. You know that old saying, “first, do no harm”… sustainable solutions are the beginning of a greener future!

By simply separating materials in the salon ready for repurposing, we save thousands of tonnes of materials from polluting our earth in landfill each year, while rescuing valuable resources that can actually be put to good use!

Selling these collected materials for recycling means we generate extra monetary resources that we donate in full to OzHarvest. For every dollar donated, this amazing organisation feeds two disadvantaged Aussies (SSA’s donation alone feeds 2,000 people every month!), while working hard to educate the nation to reverse our wasteful food habits.

These two sustainability elements together now produce strong messages about sustainability in our salon industry. Why is this important? These messages allow the salon owner to communicate, market and be part of powerful initiatives that demonstrate to the client that investing in a sustainable salon business leads to so much more than just the treatment glow they leave with. And this builds repeat business, profit, security, and a strong future for that community.

Our aim always is to educate our industry and beyond that sustainability is no longer just about thinking twice before printing an email – it’s about making real, measurable change that creates a ripple effect.

People, Planet, Profit. It takes all three to make the world go around for many years to come.

Paul Frasca is the Co-Founder & Managing Director of Sustainable Salons Australia. His passion for sustainability started when he lived in Amsterdam where he met his partner Ewelina Soroko, a passionate environmentalist. In 2015 the pair started an innovative resource recovery program called Sustainable Salons Australia. Designed especially for the salon environment, SSA collects up to 95% of the salon’s waste bin and repurposes it for environmental and community benefit, while rewarding the salon.