Disruption. Isn’t it interesting how this word, meaning ‘forcible separation’, was traditionally used in a negative context but is now a cool way to talk about shaking things up for the better, being one of the brave ones… it’s a compliment!

Our industry loves this word. It makes us feel like a bit of a badass right, a rebel with a cause – whether it’s new product technology, doing business against the traditional salon concept or driving digital to educate a bricks-and-mortar craft – all of these things are challenging the way we interact with each other and the consumer, and are forcing those who aren’t creating the disruptions to decide whether they’ll join in or stay put.

But why did these elements need to be shaken up in the first place? Hopefully you already know the answer to this; so our industry won’t die. To create sustainability! If we don’t get ahead of trends or problems, we become voiceless, invisible and stuck with mediocre… or worse.

I can imagine this is exactly how the formidable climate change activist Greta Thunberg decided to rise to action. She’s disruption personified, and the recent tantrum from Aussie media commentator Andrew Bolt tells me this Swedish 16-year-old badass is definitely one to watch (he called her “freakishly influential” and “deeply disturbed”, it’s worth the Google!).

If you’re not fan-girling Greta daily like me, then let me catch you up quickly. Back in 2018, Greta staged a solo climate action protest on the steps of the Swedish parliament, and after attracting loads of media attention, her stand quickly spread globally becoming the ‘school strike for the climate’ movement just a few months later. In March this year, an estimated 1.4 million students in 112 countries joined her call in striking and protesting, with a similar event taking place in 125 countries later in May.

As well as spearheading this global student movement, she now also delivers stirring speeches in world leader forums and she’s landed herself a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. Now tell me one person can’t make a difference!

Earlier this year, we brought The S Event Upcycled to life in Melbourne alongside our friends at Box Hill Institute. During this colourful sustainability showcase, we used this buzz word (while I channelled inspirational Greta vibes) to encourage the audience to do two things – SUPPORT green disruptors and BE green disruptors.

In lieu of any widespread, effective solutions from government, council and major industry, a green disruptor in our eyes is when small business takes sustainability matters into its own hands. These businesses typically target a specific industry, solve a problem, provide a sustainable alternative and act on a social conscience.

There are so many brands out there – some that we at Sustainable Salons are proud to work with – that are shaking up their space in this way; think Who Gives a Crap, OzHarvest, thankyou., Patagonia just to name a few. When you choose these brands over the traditional ‘non-sustainably-minded’ options, you’re supporting change and saying ‘yes’ to a new, improved normal.

As far as BEING the green disruptors in our industry, we believe our Sustainable Salons members are awesome examples of small business standing up for a better way. Each of our salon members offers consumers a practical pathway to prevent their salon service from negatively impacting our planet and communities.

It’s no secret that the Sustainable Salons program was specifically designed to disrupt the waste management model (there’s almost nothing I love more than getting into juicy debates with the waste industry guys… I said almost). But do we tick all the boxes of a green disruptor? Before we urged our audience at The S Event to go out on this mission, we put ourselves under the microscope first.

WE’RE SALON-FOCUSSED

Our goal has always been to create a zero-waste salon industry. One of the great things about pouring our focussed attention into one area is that we soon start to see real, measurable results.

So far, we’ve saved more than 358,000kg of valuable resources from polluting our planet in landfill… and along the way, the sale of those materials for recycling has provided 95,200+ meals to those in need via OzHarvest and KiwiHarvest. That’s just one example of the power of a single industry moving as one!

WE’RE PROBLEM SOLVERS

Not only are we on the hunt daily for more repurposing solutions that will take us to our zero-waste goal, but we’re deliberate about solving problems in other areas, too.

 

In Queensland we work with Endeavour Foundation and recently we partnered with Mambourin in Victoria to provide ongoing work in our reprocessing depots for people with a disability – this sector finds it particularly tough to establish stable employment, and we’ve become part of the solution.

WE’RE MAKING SUSTAINABILITY ACCESSIBLE

Our entire network of members means more than 40,000 consumers every week are now offsetting the impact of their salon visit, and thanks to our salons showing off in the media, thousands of consumers are searching for their nearest Sustainable Salons member salon via our online Directory every month.

WE’RE ACTING OUT

We know we’ve said it many times before, but people are the ‘why’ in everything we do.

When our salons choose the right bin for their foil and paper, they feed someone in need. Every time a hairdresser cuts a ponytail with purpose, they provide new confidence for an alopecia or cancer sufferer who’s lost their own crowning glory during a tough time. And when our salons volunteer their time and skills to bring relief to the most vulnerable in our communities via one of the many pop-up events we’re associated with, they give someone the chance to find positive change.

Now we’re not saying we’re badass, but our entire network is full of proud green rebels with a cause… and as far as I’m concerned, they should be the new definition of disruptor. Somebody call Oxford.

By Paul Frasca

Sustainable Salons Co-founder & Managing Director

Keen to join the Sustainable Salons movement? Register your salon details HERE.