Sustainability with style

Hairdresser at Bach Hair salon doing a customers hair

Peter and Lee Hanmer have seen plenty of change since they opened their first hair salon in Brisbane more than 40 years ago. But when Peter talks about sustainability at their salon, Bach Hair in Paddington, it is with the energy and commitment of someone in the midst of a most rewarding fresh adventure.

Turning of the tide

Peter said that he first felt that the tide had turned around 15 years ago when he realised that it was irresponsible to be in business without considering the impact you were having on the planet. 

“We chose to change and partner with Sustainable Salons, which is a business within the hairdressing industry that makes it very easy to be sustainable,” Peter said.

I think that combination of a desire to be sustainable and the ability to do it easily has been the trick.”

It didn’t take much effort for him and his team of 15 workers to be sustainable thanks to the support of Sustainable Salons

Peter and Lee’s clients pay a small ‘green fee’ on top of their services and for that cost, a Sustainable Salons consultant teaches his team how to be more sustainable and regularly collects the bins full of material to be recycled or disposed of carefully.

Making sustainability easy

At Bach Hair, almost everything is recycled.

“Metals, plastics, paper, cardboard, even the hair we cut and the chemicals we use go back to Sustainable Salons and are either repurposed or carefully managed to not be as harmful to the environment as they otherwise might be,” Peter said.

For example, Bach Hair would fill several bins each week with aluminium foil, which, along with any other metals, are collected by Sustainable Salons to earn credits. With the credits, the salon can then buy back the foil that has been cleaned and repurposed.

Plastics are sold on to be repurposed into heavy plastics that are less dangerous to the environment and can be used to create large items such as bus stops and park benches.

Chemicals, like those used in colour treatments, are treated to break down into non-potable water and can be used for purposes like damping down construction sites.

Even the cut hair at the salon is repurposed and made into large, sausage-like marine booms to be put on boats to contain and absorb any oil spill. 

In addition to that, Peter and Lee have put 15 watts of solar panels on the salon roof, which in winter makes the salon off-grid, and in summer covers most energy costs including air-conditioning.

Peter said that Sustainable Salons has a beautiful model that gives back to the community as well as the environment, with profits going to OzHarvest and Kiwi Harvest, who provide food relief for those in need of help.

Keep looking – keep getting better

Sustainability has become a part of the DNA at Bach Hair and Peter says there are always opportunities to change business practices to improve sustainability and be more efficient.

“We’re always looking at how to do things better. As battery technology becomes better, we’re looking at ways to harness our surplus solar power. We also recently found a company to install tap heads that have halved our water usage,” Peter said.

Brisbane ties

First opened in 1983, Bach Hair has grown and changed as part of Brisbane’s evolving business landscape. Peter says that he’s grown to love the city that no longer fits the stereotype of a ‘big country town’.

“All of a sudden, it’s a big town. It is a fashionable town and a place where it’s possible to manage a modern, effective business,” Peter said.

“If you look at what comes out of our city, it is remarkable. Particularly in our industry, some of the best hairdressers in Australia are in Brisbane.”

Be sustainable and shout about it

Peter said that businesses should wear their efforts to be more sustainable proudly.

“You don’t have be sustainable quietly. If you tell the world about your efforts to be sustainable, it will increase your business. People are interested in it.”

“If you’re going to be a modern, effective business, shout about it. I think it has driven business to us,” Peter said.

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Topics: business

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