Worm farms and water saving: meet the environmental hair salon

You wouldn’t normally expect to find three worm farms out the back of a hair salon. But then again, La Unica Salon isn’t your average salon.

The hair and makeup salon in the NSW suburb of Drummoyne is breaking new ground in its industry by putting the spotlight on sustainability.

The multiple award-winning salon was named a finalist in the Environmental Business Category of its local government’s Sustainability Awards for the second time this year.

It all started when the building needed rewiring four years ago, explains salon director Sal Bua.

“We chose energy efficient lighting, then worked with our local council to be more efficient water users, focus on our waste processes and then look for ways to support our local community in a sustainable way,” he explains.

Initiatives implemented over the years include water-saving shower heads on the basins, relying on a clothes line rather than a dryer for wet towels, dual flushing toilets, sourcing products with a similar environmental slant to use in the salon, and recycling all aluminium foil, tubes and cans.  

Some clients book in specifically because of its sustainable approach, while others aren’t even that aware of the salon’s green status, Bua says.

“We’ve even got three worm farms out the back of the salon and hope one day to be able to have beehives on our roof. We’re really proud of what we do, and it hasn’t been much different cost-wise to implement.”


   

Consider putting sustainability on the map by adding it to your business plan.

   
 

Include information such as:

  • Environmental/resource impacts: describe the impact your business could potentially have on the environment.
  • Community impact & engagement: describe how your environmental impact affects the local community. Detail how you can engage the community in minimising your impact.
  • Risks/constraints: list any risks/constraints to your business resulting from any environmental impacts.
  • Strategies: detail any strategies you will implement to minimise your environmental impact.
  • Action plan: list your key sustainability and environmental milestones, including the target you’re trying to achieve and target date.

Source: business.gov.au

 
     

 

The case for sustainability

Most of us think sustainability covers things like greenhouse gases, carbon footprints and ecosystems. And while that’s true, this environmental side is just one element of sustainability. These days, economic and social factors are now recognised as equally important aspects, according to Sustainability Skills.

The site also explains that sustainability improvements can be hard to quantify, especially where measurements aren’t available, or the outcomes of making sustainable changes in your business are intangible. However, bear in mind that if all business owners make even small changes for the better in their business, it can make a significant positive impact on the environment.

Promoting your newly implemented environmentally friendly business methods can set your business apart from your competitors and attract new customers who want to purchase from a sustainable operator.

Before making any environmental claims about your products, read the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s green marketing and the Australian Consumer Law publication to ensure you comply with the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

What are the advantages?

Running an environmentally-friendly business helps you reduce your impact on the environment and preserves natural resources.

And if you’re less dependent on natural resources than your competitors and have ways to deal with rising costs due to climate change, your business will stand a greater chance of long-term success.

There are lots of government grants available for businesses to take a greener path, so make sure you take a look at what’s on offer in your state. Also, look out for programs like the NSW office of Environment & Heritage, one that helps businesses reduce energy, water and waste bills, and maximise profit. Your local council may have various initiatives too.

How to make a start

Making sustainability improvements does take some investment in your time and energy, advises the NSW Business Chamber.

The site advises that you start by looking behind the scenes at how your business currently operates to identify the full cost of your processes and products, business strategies and activities.

You can hire a sustainability expert to conduct a full audit and report back to you, or there’s plenty you can do by undertaking an environmental audit by downloading this checklist.

If you do decide to hire outside help, it’s worthwhile asking to see case studies on similar businesses to yours to help you decide on their approach and successes.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of businesses that have forged a path teaching others to be more sustainable. Take Sydney firm, waster.com.au, for example, which helps SMEs reduce their waste costs by increasing recycling. The firm has helped many businesses such as cafes, shops and offices improve their recycling while reducing costs. The Victorian Government’s Environmental Sustainability Hub also provided this handy guide on cutting costs in your small business, including an energy saving checklist.

There’s also plenty of price comparison sites out there such as electricity comparison site, GoSwitch.

So start the ball rolling in your business today, and see how far a sustainable approach can take your business, the environment and your community.

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