Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword — it’s a way of thinking that can reduce your outgoings, boost your business’s reputation, and even help the planet. But what does it really mean? And what practical steps can you take to minimise your salon’s carbon footprint?
With climate change regularly making headlines and living costs on the rise, being lean and green should be high on every business’s priorities.
But it isn’t just about the impact on day-to-day running costs. Your attitude towards sustainability also influences how you’re seen by employees, the industry, and your clients. So what are the advantages of giving your business an eco-makeover?
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions: The main driving force behind the whole green conversation, though some seem to have forgotten, is to save the planet! Greenhouse gas emissions are having an impact all over the world, so it’s up to all of us to do our part and try to reduce emissions through sustainable business practices
Lower operating costs: Many of these practices that can be introduced into the workplace have the added benefit of reducing your business’s operational costs. Like energy-saving appliances and lightbulbs, insulation, and renewable energy solutions
Improve brand reputation: Consumers care about your attitude towards sustainability. An Insider Intelligence report from 2021 found that 88% of respondents believed sustainability should be a standard business practice, and the same percentage believed businesses have a responsibility to take care of the planet
We’ll lay out practical steps to help you reap these rewards — but first, let’s define the industry jargon that you’ll come across in your sustainability journey.
Decoding the sustainability lingo
Some of the lingo surrounding climate change can be unclear, so here are definitions for the most important terms:
Greenhouse gases are a group of gases that trap heat in the earth's atmosphere. They include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, and more
Yourcarbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by your business through heating, waste, water usage, and supply chains
Beingcarbon neutral means the amount of CO2 you put into the atmosphere is the same or less than the amount you take out - essentially by offsetting your carbon footprint
Carbon offsetting is the practice of removing CO2e from the atmosphere, which can be done by carbon capture and storage (CSS) methods or reforestation
Net zero is like being carbon neutral, but it applies to more than just CO2e - it means offsetting all greenhouse gas emissions. This is harder to achieve, but more positively impactful on the environment
Biodegradable materials are things that can be broken down by microorganisms like bacteria naturally over time - as opposed to non-biodegradable materials like plastic that harm the environment
Fossil fuels refers to fuels like oil or natural gas that have historically been used to generate energy - however burning fossil fuels directly leads to climate change as a result of greenhouse gas emissions
Microplastics are solid particles of plastic smaller than 5mm, which have been found in air, water and soil samples across the world as a result of our heavy use of plastic over decades. Some wellness and beauty products have been guilty of including microplastics in their formulas
Renewable energy means ways of generating energy that are sustainable, compared to burning fossil fuels. Examples of renewable energy include solar power from solar panels, wind power generated by turbines, or hydroelectric power generated by dams
Steps towards sustainability
So how can you and your business make a difference? Here are our top tips for beauty and wellness business owners going green.
1) Calculate your carbon emissions
Determine how much CO2 your business produces each year through its use of electricity, fuel, refrigerant top-ups etc. You can use the Carbon Trust's free online carbon footprint calculator to work it out.
2) Add up the costs
Compare the costs of your utilities with alternatives so you can identify where you can save on common business expenses, e.g. electric vehicles versus petrol or diesel, and climate change levies on energy and fuel bills. You can use Zero Carbon Business’s step-by-step guide to figure this out.
3) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Write a bitesize strategy that outlines how your business aims to reduce its CO2 emissions and share it with staff. You might want to start with a pledge to consume less electricity by installing energy-saving light bulbs, reusing (or re-filling) packaging, and recycling everything you can. You could also suggest car-shares for staff.
4) Measure, track and share
Track and share your carbon footprint milestones so that staff and customers can stay up to date with how you're getting on — it'll help maintain momentum and boost your reputation. Check online to see if any government support is available to you.
5) Offset tricky emissions
Some emissions are almost impossible to remove, which is why many companies opt for sequestration. This means they pay for carbon to be captured and stored out of the atmosphere, usually via tree planting schemes. The Offset Guide has some great tips to help you get started.
Good luck, and happy carbon-cutting!
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