click image to zoomThe Jonathan Kane Salon and Spa was able to reduce its waste by 75% to date because the whole team embraced the effort says owner Larry Kane. “If I would have had to do it alone, I probably wouldn’t have succeeded, but my staff got crazy about recycling.” (Photo by Lauren Salapatek.) When Tamara Jercha was getting her MBA, she decided to draft a Strategic Sustainable Business Plan on a salon as a final project in her sustainable business class. She reached out to longtime friend and former colleague Larry Kane, asking if Jonathan Kane Salon and Spa, the salon Kane owns with his wife Kathleen in Flossmoor, Illinois, would serve as her guinea pig. The Kanes agreed, and the sustainability plan examined everything about the salon from the materials it was constructed from to the energy, water and bulbs it used to the waste it produced.
From that experience, Jercha developed a 12-stage model that could help any-sized salon be more sustainable. “Creating and implementing sustainable business practices is no longer the domain of big corporations,” says Jercha, who went on to become a sustainability consultant and the founder of The National Association of Eco-Friendly Salons & Spas. “Salon industry professionals are taking notes from their business partners in manufacturing, paying special attention to energy efficiency, water conservation and waste reduction.”
click image to zoomCutting Coach Marissa Sylvester and Aveda Mentor Angela Pries sweep up hair clippings and deposit them into a recycling box which will be shipped to Terracycle. (Photo by Lauren Salapatek) About a year ago, Jercha was watching a program about Terracycle, an international recycling company founded by Tom Szaky, which collects difficult-to-recycle packaging and products and repurposes the material into affordable, innovative products. She again called Larry Kane, asking if he’d be interested in pursuing sustainability further by conducting a waste audit of the salon with the goal of creating a zero waste salon and spa environment, and he quickly agreed. “I have always been a conservationist at heart, and being an Aveda concept salon, the Zero Waste Project fell right into our mission,” Kane says. “We feel strongly that consumers will seek those products and services that follow a principle of environmental awareness.”
Setting up trash collection boxes in the basement of the free-standing salon, Kane and Jercha collected and audited four weeks’ worth of trash to create a benchmark of the typical waste produced by the salon. Once they’d established the benchmark, both Jercha and Kane researched the different municipal waste collection vendors to find out what could be recycled through the current system, and they partnered with TerraCycle on the more challenging items, such as hair and used cotton strips/pads, foil, wax strips.