Industry • Perspective
It's Not Easy Being Green, But Can it Drive ROI?
Aug.27,2021By Boulevard Staff
Refillable beauty and other sustainability trends represent a huge business opportunity for ethical, eco-friendly salons.
Green beauty is an undeniable industry trend, but there are many facets to that eco-friendly shift. Packaging is one of the primary forces in the push for beauty’s sustainable future, since the industry has historically been devastatingly wasteful. Perhaps because of that history, refillable beauty products have surfaced as one of the most immediate changes the industry can make to reduce its environmental impact and help protect the planet for generations to come.
With that said, refillables represent quite a leap for both beauty brand manufacturers and salons and retailers alike. In this article we’ll look at the multi-faceted reasons salons should enact sustainable practices immediately, and how to make sure the transition is smooth and profitable.
Save the planet, build your business
Going green isn’t just good for the planet, it’s also a smart business decision. Individual actions aren’t enough to keep up with the sheer amount of waste we create as a society. Consumers are seeing the limitations of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra and reconsidering their consumption habits as they are confronted with increasingly shocking statistics on plastic waste:
The average American consumer creates 250 pounds of plastic waste in a single year
Of all the plastic that has ever been produced, only 9% has been recycled
Every year, 8 million tons of plastic end up polluting the earth’s oceans.
Beauty isn’t the only industry contributing to this situation, and plastic is just one of the non-recyclable material categories causing the problem. But consumers’ shopping habits are changing, both in the beauty realm and beyond. Empowered consumers are learning to vote with their wallets, and demand for ethical and sustainable products is growing rapidly:
68% of consumers feel guilty for buying cosmetics that are not sustainable
68% of consumers plan to search for brands reducing their environmental impact
71% of consumers prefer to do business with brands that share their values.
The more beauty brands rise to the occasion, the greater their business opportunities will be. Salons that meet increasing consumer demand for earth-friendly products, services, and experiences will stand to reap the benefits of a change that is both a moral imperative and immensely profitable:
From 2013-2018, products marketed as sustainable generated half of CPG growth
Sustainable products grew 5.6 times faster than unsustainable ones in 2018
The sustainable product market could reach $150.1 billion by the end of 2021.
Beautify through better packaging
One of the reasons packaging became such an integral — and hard-to-quit — part of the beauty industry is the role it played in conveying a certain level of luxury. Without that expensive and wasteful packaging, beauty brands have to find new ways to create the sense of allure that comes from a high-quality, luxury-level product. At the same time, refillable containers are designed to last longer than their disposable predecessors. That’s even more reason for beauty brands to invest in striking, memorable designs that do away with wasteful packaging.
Salons are primed to take advantage of that aesthetic investment. From styling stations to retail shelves, salons can beautify their spaces by going green. Stocking refillable beauty products and sustainable brands will cut down on physical waste, reduce clutter at workstations, and free up shelf space. Integrating simplicity and elegance into the physical space will continue the luxury-level experience through your entire salon.
If you can’t eliminate, at least reduce
If less plastic is a stop on the way to no plastic, a step in the right direction is better than no movement at all. Especially at the early stages of transitioning to eco-friendly business models, it’s important to remember to keep your eyes on the prize. If you can reduce the plastic waste your salon consumes, even that small step makes a difference. Set benchmarks for your business and create a plan that will get you into the green zone, as it were, one step at a time.
If going green overnight is too much of a leap, start phasing out unsustainable products one at a time. Replace them with no-waste refillables so that your clientele has a chance to acclimate to new systems before you overhaul your entire product line. If your company or your community aren’t ready for refillable beauty yet, try transitioning through packaging that’s compostable or certified biodegradable.
Educate consumers who aren’t there yet
While some consumers are raring to go green, others need a little help to get there. After decades of disposability and short-term or single-use products, making the switch to refillable products requires a shift in mindset. Discuss the benefits of refillables with your clients, and make sure your team is prepared to answer their questions. If you’re focused on retail refillables, guide clients through the process of buying refills or returning their empties.
One of the things that can help consumers feel more comfortable with new processes is a sense of normalization. If your salon is buzzing with the news of the new sustainable options you offer, consumers will be excited to be a part of a passionate community. You can also leverage the global brands making the leap to refillables and other sustainable packaging methods to help consumers envision themselves in the future of beauty: L’Occitane, Ouai, Guerlain, Charlotte Tilbury, Le Labo, Jo Malone, Dior, and other well-known beauty brands are already offering refillable products.
Foster eco-conscious partnerships
Going green isn’t easy, and the task only becomes more daunting for bigger and more complex salon companies. Partnering with an eco-friendly organization will help your salon make the transition more smoothly and efficiently. Green Circle Salons, for example, works with a range of industry professionals in the United States and Canada to properly recycle and repurpose beauty waste. Movements like GCS’s help salons dispose of their plastic waste, chemical waste, and even hair in ethical, sustainable ways, without having to reinvent the wheel. Keeping salon waste out of landfills is a big step, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Boulevard’s partnership with Green Circle Salons enables salons to use management software and sustainability support that are already collaborating toward a better world. Salons can implement their eco-friendly values at every level of their business and measure the impact of those steps toward sustainability. Learn more about our partnership and the Green Circle Salons movement here.
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