Melenie Tudor, owner of En Route Hair & Beauty in Walton has launched an offensive against single-use plastic waste generated by sales of shampoo and conditioner bottles in her salon. She has introduced a refill station to invite customers to reuse, recycle and refill their empty product containers so that as many plastic items can be averted from landfill as possible.
In a recent survey of over 100 En Route Hair & Beauty customers, 75% indicated that they would be very likely to bring their bottles back for refill. This is translating into action, and Melenie has already seen 25 customers use the new refill station to give fresh life to 48 shampoo bottles and 30 conditioner bottles. Melenie said:
We’re aiming for 1,000 as our first milestone. 78 is a good start and I’m pleased with that figure in the first couple of weeks of launching the refill bar. Hairdressing isn’t the kindest industry to the planet with all the product waste, water and electricity usage. I’m changing things to reduce my business’ waste and its negative environmental footprint.
Further raising awareness of each person’s responsibility towards the planet, Melenie also launched a ‘Sustainability Promise’ where staff and clients have been invited to commit to adopting one new environmentally friendly act a day that they didn’t do before. So far, around 60 people have lent their support to the idea by pledging to implement a new choice and marking this commitment by putting a green fingerprint against their name. Melenie says:
It’s a great visual reminder that if we all make small choices, then together they all add up to make a difference. I never set out with an ‘I know it all stance’, but rather a ‘let’s do something about this’ invitation.
Melenie, who is a seven times North West Hairdresser of the Year finalist, found her green passion after visiting an Orangutan sanctuary in Borneo for her birthday. There she cared for orangutans who had been displaced by large areas of rain forest destroyed by palm oil plantations. Since that life-changing trip, Melenie has been set on making noticeable changes in her business.
Now she is more efficient with waste. Melenie got rid of all the salon’s washing machines and tumble dryers and now uses compostable towels that disappear in 12 weeks, leaving no footprint in landfill. In a recent salon revamp, she upcycled furniture, installed energy-saving LED lighting, changed to recyclable paper bags, and got serious about eco choices right down to using green cleaning products and vegan-friendly washing up liquid with no sodium laureth sulfate – an alternative name for palm oil. Melenie also only stocks products with the RSPO (Round table for Sustainable Palm Oil) certification.
Even the client snacks haven’t escaped the environmentally friendly overhaul. Melenie used to offer individually wrapped biscuits, but her unrelenting commitment to saying no to plastic has seen her switch to very local provider, Whisk Coffee & Cake, which is just a few doors down her street. This partnership sees freshly baked biscuits delivered to the salon each week, with no transport footprint!
The refill station is more of a planet decision rather than a business decision, but I keep thinking that 1,000 of our product bottles laid out top to tail would cover two lengths of Wembley Stadium. If we continue diverting these bottles away from landfill, that’s a big difference to the environment. Multiply all the waste every consumer produces and you’re talking stadiums full of waste per year. It’s shocking when you picture it in those terms. That’s why I’m adopting alternative solutions and making supplier changes. I’m not an eco-warrior, but I’m being an influence in my sphere and hopefully sparking others to reduce their waste too.
I wanted to make my team and clients more aware of the importance of looking after our planet. Refilling bottles is not something new, but cheap and convenient products are becoming the norm, so I felt I needed to turn the tide in my business. I just feel strongly that if we all did our bit, it will lead to bigger changes and big suppliers will stand up and listen to the consumer. – Melenie Tudor