A salon owner’s story about how she made her business more sustainable by recycling salon waste.
The logo for Salon C in Crystal Lake, Illinois, is a fresh vibrant green. But that’s not the only thing that’s green about the salon — the business is also committed to the environment by reducing waste through an innovative subscription recycling program designed specifically for the beauty industry.
Since November 2019, Salon C owner Caitlin O’Neill and her team have reduced their trash output from one bag a day to one bag a week with an easy-to-use salon recycling system developed by GLO.
“I have team members who are very eco-conscious; they want to make a difference in the world,” says O’Neill. “We had already been doing a few eco-friendly things around the salon, but you can always do better.” She wanted to find a way to make her salon a more sustainable business but wasn’t sure it was possible.
Salon recycling made simple.
The landlord of the business plaza where Salon C is located offers his tenants trash service but not recycling. As a renter, O’Neill would have to set up and pay for a curbside recycling service, but that option limits what salon items can be recycled. For example, with most curbside programs, caps and lids must be removed from plastic bottles, and hair clippings wouldn’t be recyclable, meaning that most of the waste that salons produce would still end up in a landfill.
When offered the opportunity to pilot GLO’s salon recycling program, O’Neill jumped at the chance. The salon acquired subscriptions for two recycling boxes—one for hair clippings and one for mixed recycling, which includes cardboard, plastic, wooden applicators, used waxing strips, foils, empty tubes, and product bottles with their caps. GLO also offers recycling containers for aerosol cans and a variety of flammable items.
“GLO’s customer portal is so simple to use. Purchasing boxes and liners is very customizable. I can put my order on auto-refill so I don’t have to think about it,” says O’Neill. “It’s clear that they understand the beauty industry; you can plan for busy times and slow times and adjust your order easily.”
Each GLO box lid lists what can go into it, which makes the process simple and user-friendly. There’s no confusion about whether or not an item can be recycled.
“If you can read, you can’t mess it up,” says O’Neill. “Because it’s so accessible, it’s easy to get into the habit of recycling. Recycling only seems complicated on the surface, but once you get started, it makes a lot of sense.”
She adds that she and her team have been surprised at just how much their four-chair salon has been able to keep out of landfills using the GLO subscription program. She says it makes them feel good knowing that 100% of the items they collect and return to GLO will be recycled.
“It’s a drastic difference. We fill the mixed box once a week. And I haven’t bought trash bags in ages because we’ve cut down so much on the amount of waste we have, so I save money there,” she says. “I’m sure our landlord appreciates that we’re not putting as much into the dumpster as we used to.”
Raising eco-awareness with salon customers.
The GLO boxes are definitely a conversation starter, and clients are eager to learn about the salon’s efforts to go green. “My guests enjoy knowing that we’re doing our part to help the environment, and by choosing us, they’re helping, too,” says O’Neill. “It’s encouraging to see their interest.”
Beyond recycling, other eco-friendly aspects of Salon C’s guest experience include serving coffee in real cups (rather than cardboard or Styrofoam) and stocking the restroom with terry hand towels rather than paper. Team members drink from their own water bottles rather than bottled water. The salon is also considering switching to branded reusable tote bags rather than paper bags for product purchases.
“It’s good marketing and good for the environment,” says O’Neill, adding that she also sees more and more customers choosing to put their next appointment directly into their phones rather than using paper reminder cards.
A cause that salon employees can believe in.
While O’Neill is pro-recycling, she admits that her young team members are the ones who have been the most excited about Salon C’s commitment to going green. Because it’s important to them, it’s become more important to her.
“Young people today want to know that they are working for a place that makes a difference. They want to leave the world better than they found it,” she explains. “If I want to attract young talent to my salon, I need to offer them a way to make a difference.”
That hasn’t always been easy, working in the beauty industry.
“Our industry uses lots of chemicals—there’s no getting around that,” says O’Neill. “So, we have to ask if there are other ways to be sustainable in the beauty field. With GLO, we can say ‘yes, there is.’ We can reduce our impact on the environment by making these simple changes.”