Cutting hair and cutting emissions
Getting a haircut for many is an errand or a chore, just another task checked off the to-do list. But for clients of Meraki Bespoke Hair Boutique, their haircut is a positive act of environmental conservation. We spent the afternoon at Meraki in Swansea with owner Kath Davies, to see what life is like in a sustainable green salon.
Hair salons are colossal waste producers, with the use of foils and products overwhelmingly packaged in non-biodegradable plastics. Of the foil used in salons, only one per cent gets recycled, and for the 99 per cent that goes to landfill, it will take 400 years to break down. However, salons like Meraki are turning the tide for hair salons and giving them a greener reputation.
The Green Salon Collective
During the first UK lockdown, similar to many others, Kath was forced to close her shop. Having time to take stock of her thriving business, Kath wanted to take her passion for sustainability to work with her. This is when she signed up for the Green Salon Collective.
The Green Salon Collective is a company which provides salons with the opportunity to recycle and repurpose their waste responsibly. As a member of the Collective, salons pay to have their foil, hazardous chemicals, and cut hair collected by the Green Salon Collective’s couriers. The Green Salon Collective then recycles the foils which would otherwise go to landfill, properly disposes of chemicals, and repurposes cut hair into hair booms which are used to soak up oil spills. Otherwise, the material is given to farmers as hair contain nutrients and proteins which, when composted, enrich the soil.
Meraki was the first salon in Wales to join the Green Salon Collective back in 2020, as they had only started up in the UK two weeks prior to Kath signing up. Being a part of the collective has not changed anything about the day-to-day operations of the salon and Kath urges others to sign up.
“I really feel like other salons should be doing their bit because salons are renowned for being really toxic environments and the disposal of all the leftovers is just immense. It’s heartbreaking that people aren’t doing their bit a little bit more.”
Joining the Green Salon Collective, however, is just one sustainable aspect of Meraki. Kath’s dedication to sustainable, waste-free business can be observed throughout her salon.
Another prominent issue within the salon world is their contribution to air pollution. The odors and chemicals from treatments pollute the environment. To combat this, Meraki uses Davines hair products. Davines is a second-generation, family run business based in Italy who pride themselves on being carbon-neutral and sustainable. Their products are formulated with ingredients that are safe for the consumer and for the environment.
This is about a feel-good factor and making a difference– Kath Davies, Owner, Meraki Bespoke Hair Boutique
Davines products are also run through an extensive packaging selection process where they use as little raw material as possible and use recycled materials where possible. The Davines products at Meraki are all food-grade plastics which Kath urges to be reused as drinking bottles or which can be re-filled for a 10 per cent discount to incentivise her clients to repurpose the packaging.
Another idea Kath developed during lockdown was for her own treatments. Kath now offers an organic herbal scalp and hair scrub which includes her homemade herbal hair rinse. The rinse contains natural hair growth stimulants such as rosemary, peppermint, sage, and nettle.
If you think Kath hadn’t made her treatment even more sustainable, think again! She grows her own sage and nettles right outside of the salon. These herbs are even fertilized with the remnants of soap nuts that she uses to clean the salon’s towels. Unlike other salons that use either disposable towels or wash their towels in less-ecofriendly detergent, soap nuts are zero-waste and are used three times before being placed in the soil.
She also uses medical-grade rosemary and peppermint essential oils in the herbal rinse which are highly concentrated, so they can be used for a long time.
I want to give something a new life rather than [buy] something new. I want to give something a new lease of life– Kath Davies, Owner, Meraki Bespoke Hair Boutique
The majority of the furniture in Meraki is upcycled. From mirrors that were picked up from the tip and restored, to an old ammunition case-turned-table, Meraki is a second life for pre-loved items.
Perhaps the item that stands out the most in Meraki is their sign outside the front. Even this is upcycled from an old fairground.
Spending the afternoon with Kath at Meraki was an amazing insight into the world of sustainable hair salons. Towards the end of our time together, Kath told us what Meraki actually means.
Meraki is a Greek term which, roughly translated, means: “when you leave a piece of yourself, put your soul, creativity, and love into what you do.”
Everything which is used in the salon has a sustainable aspect, from environmentally friendly products, to the re-purposed fairground ‘Meraki’ sign out front. Kath has thoughtfully put love and care into Meraki and the environment, so it’s clear to see why she named her salon after this Greek phrase.
Looking ahead, Kath sees a bright future for herself and Meraki as she hopes to expand and inspire others to make greener decisions in their lives and in other salons. Kath urges other salons to join the Green Salon Collective as it benefits the environment and makes customers feel good at the same time. Kath adds: “You feel good when you come in and you also leave knowing that you’ve done something really positive.”