This Act Of Self-Care Isn't Great For The Environment. Here's How To Tweak It

Photo: Micky Wiswedel

Ever since I embarked on a zero-waste journey, I've realized that it's a long, slow process that brings about new challenges every day. When you really pay attention to your trash production, things that you've never thought twice about doing before—accepting a sample at the grocery store, sorting through mail—can lead to a fair amount of waste.

One of the most difficult moments in the transition so far came when I realized I simply couldn't last any longer without getting a haircut. Even though I'm a woman of many talents, cutting my own hair is not my strength...but who knows what's really going on in the trash room of traditional salons? Once I realized it was high time to seek out an eco-friendly salon, I kept these three points in mind:

1. Look out for green products.

There are plenty of sustainable hair care products that are available for the home, such as solid shampoos, bar conditioners, and products that come in reusable bottles you can refill. But hair salons have different standards when it comes to product selection.

However, there are sustainable, retail-facing lines like Kevin Murphy and Davines that spread ecological awareness around the world by using recycled and recyclable packaging, powering their plants and offices with renewable energy, and donate to the environmental charities. By carrying products like these, salons can start to make a more positive impact right away. It's pretty easy to find out what salons stock your favorite natural products. If you're in NYC, Exhibit in Brooklyn carries Kevin Murphy and a whole range of salons in Manhattan stock Davines.

2. Find a salon that recycles and composts (or offer to do it yourself).

As consumers hear more and more about the plastic waste heading to our landfills and waterways, they're becoming more sensitive to the trash issue. Salons in particular often send hair clippings and leftover product to the trash can, so it's essential to find one that separates waste and recyclables.

Beyond that, why not look for a salon that composts? Human hair can be added to most compost piles! Many will advertise the fact that they compost on their websites. Parlor Salon in NYC gives their compost to local gardens! If you're feeling bold, you can also come prepared to your appointment with a paper bag or a jar with a lid and tell your stylist you'll take care of the mess. Once all the hair ends are swiped, put them in your container and take them with you to add to your compost bin.

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3. Pay attention to the salon's design.

There are a number of decisions that can add up to a company's overall sustainability. I found that Noordwyck Salon in Brooklyn, for example, is a testament to the fact that a studio's design can make a big difference. The entire space is covered in repurposed old furniture and reclaimed woods.

When I sat down with the founder, Clara, to get the scoop, she told me that everything was custom-built by a Brooklyn-based woodworker using FSC-certified wood. "The styling chairs are vintage, locally found and reupholstered in Brooklyn with eco-faux leather, and the back of house color and supplies storage cabinets were reclaimed cabinets from The Big Reuse," she rattled off, adding that everything down to the paints (VOC-free) and locally sourced flowers were chosen with the environment in mind.

Living in an eco-friendly way means using your dollar to support businesses that put the planet at the top of mind. Keep in mind as you're searching: Salons that source furniture locally, use nontoxic cleaning supplies, and don't use paper towels in the bathrooms are probably better bets for your hair care.

Ready to revamp the rest of your self-care routine? Here are some simple, fun sustainable beauty swaps.

And are you ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.

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