A cut above
Hairdresser joins forces with Australian company to lead environmental change, writes Cameron Smith
A hair salon on Auckland’s North Shore is among the first in the country to join Sustainable Salons, which collects 95 per cent of the salon bin, including hair, and reuses or recycles the materials.
Walk through a beachside community shopping centre on Auckland’s North Shore, and you’ll find a hair salon leading the charge for environmental change in the industry.
Amanda Baker, a hairdresser of 22 years and owner of Amanda Baker Hair & Makeup in Browns Bay, firmly believes it’s time for her salon to be part of the solution and not the problem.
Baker is among the first salon owners in the country to get involved with Sustainable Salons, a comprehensive Australian resource recovery service designed for the salon environment that rewards participants and gives back to the community.
Founded in 2015 and launched in New Zealand last month, Sustainable Salons specialises in collecting up to 95 per cent of the salon bin and redirecting all material for reuse, recycling and repurposing.
Baker says her concern for the environment made her decision to get involved with the programme an easy one.
“I’m always thinking about the environment,” Baker says.
“Working in Browns Bay, I often look at the beach and I kind of think ‘Oh God it’s getting polluted’.
“You can definitely tell the difference.”
According to a 2017 report commissioned by the New Zealand Waste Levy Action Group, 15.5 million tonnes of waste is discarded in New Zealand each year, but only 28 per cent of it is recycled.
Baker says, “as a business we go through lots of foil and we go through lots of chemicals and we use a lot of that kind of stuff, so for me I think ‘what can I do to reduce what I’m doing’.”
Sustainable Salons co-founder Ewelina Soroko says, “awareness is awesome and extremely important, but action is the only way we’re truly going to build a better planet.”
Co-founder and managing director Paul Frasca highlights the importance of the 450-plus strong salon member network’s launch in New Zealand.
“New Zealand is not only renowned for its awesome scenery, but also for being progressive on many issues,” Frasca says.
“They have the passion and the motivation to really take sustainability to the next level, and that’s what Ewelina and I are most excited about.”
The arrival of Sustainable Salons in New Zealand was timely for Baker, and the decision to get involved was a no-brainer.
“Sustainable Salons is a company that’s been in Australia for a few years and I’ve been following a few salons that have jumped on board with it.
“I was looking at what they were doing, trying to figure out how I could do what they were doing without their help, and then next thing you know I got an email saying that they were bringing Sustainable Salons to New Zealand and would I be interested.
“So it was just an easy ‘Oh my God, yes’.
“This is going to take all the hard work out of it for me.
“I signed up the second I had the opportunity to. I was like ‘let me at it, I’m so keen, this is exactly what I’ve been wanting’,” Baker says.
She says there are strict guidelines about what goes in which waste bins, so there is no cross-contamination.
Among the products collected are paper, plastics, metals, hair (including ponytails), chemicals, razors, tools and tin foil.
Hair gets swept up to be made into hair booms which are used to clean up oil spills along the coast.
Working in Browns Bay, I often look at the beach and I kind of think ‘Oh God it’s getting polluted’. Amanda Baker
The company is also the largest collector and donor of ponytails in Australia, sending them to charitable organisations and wig-makers to be made into wigs for people suffering from hair loss caused by medical issues.
Items such as foil are sold to a company that melts it all down and makes it into more foil for hairdressers to reuse, while all the plastic goes to a plastic company that makes it into outdoor furniture.
One hundred per cent of the profits from the recycled materials go back into the community via
OzHarvest in Australia, and KiwiHarvest in New Zealand. Together, they provide meals to vulnerable people, with more than 48,000 meals provided to date.
“I think that a lot of our clients now are going to be really excited to know that when they come and get their hair done, their carbon footprint’s being reduced,” Baker says.
The programme also has a number of benefits for its members, who can use a Rewards Shop to purchase sustainably minded products, earning points each week.
Baker echoes Soroko’s message about the importance of taking action.
“I think that all salons in New Zealand need to completely step up to it and I think if they don’t they’ll really get left behind,” she says.
Amanda Baker says her concern for the environment made it easy to decide to get involved with the programme.
Paul Frasca (left) and Ewelina Soroko of Sustainable Salons.