Devon from Sustainable Salons poses with students Collection of hair booms

Making Salon Waste History

(5th March, 2019)

REDUCE. REUSE. RECYCLE. RENEW. We’re all familiar with these four words and we know what they mean, but do we really understand their significance?

In New Zealand, each person produces an average of 360kgs of waste per year. Despite our perception of having a small population and a ‘clean, green’ image, the numbers quickly add up to display the enormity of rubbish we produce as a country.

So where does Servilles Academy fit into this? … It’s involvement with Sustainable Salons.

For this month’s Power Hour, we had the pleasure of hosting Devon Tong from Sustainable Salons, who came in to do a presentation for our students. It’s fair to say that the presentation enlightened a lot of us about the affect salon waste has on the environment and the surprising ways in which we can benefit from this waste as a community.

Sustainable Salons was created by Australian hairdresser Paul Frasca and his partner Ewelina Soroko after Paul saw how much waste his salon was producing, so they set out across Australia to see how many other salons were accumulating waste on this scale. The answer was a lot. Paul and Ewelina then embarked on a mission to tackle this problem, living by the motto to ‘make salon waste history’.  As it turns out, 95% of salon waste can be reused or recycled.

Materials ranging from hair clippings, to the wire from hair tools, to aluminium foil and even chemicals such as bleach and hair colour can be disposed of or recycled in a safe and renewable manner. Some examples include: sending off plastic packaging to specialists who turn it into outdoor furniture, collecting hair clippings for “Hair Booms” (which are used to soak up ocean oil spills. Fun fact: 1 metre of hair can soak up 4 litres of oil) and sending old dolly-heads to disadvantaged hairdressing students overseas.

Aside from their environmental efforts, Sustainable Salons are able to utilise salon waste to help other organisations in a variety of ways. When clients want a good chop, for example, they are able to donate their ponytails to charitable organisations who create wigs for those suffering from cancer or alopecia. It takes 20 ponytails to make one medically approved wig and to put it in to perspective, Sustainable Salons have collected over 43,000 ponytails, equating to 2185 wigs. Additionally, the profit made from selling waste metals to scrapyards is given to KiwiHarvest – a not-for-profit organisation, who refer to themselves as “New Zealand’s perishable food rescuers”. Since beginning the program, Sustainable Salons has gathered 125,000kg of metals and recently made their first donation of 2000 meals to KiwiHarvest! As Devon pointed out “It’s pretty crazy to think all this waste was going into a hole before.” 

Since its conception, Sustainable Salons have delved into other industries, including dog groomers, barbers and beauty clinics, as these industries produce a similar type of waste to hair salons. But remember, it’s just as easy to implement these good habits in all areas of life and encourage others to do the same.

SO… As a community of trainee hairdressers, barbers and makeup artists and the future generation of these industries, it’s vital we understand the impact of waste and how spending the little extra time cleaning out containers between clients or ensuring materials are placed in the correct bins can make a “monumental difference to how this stuff is recycled and used for good.” – Devon Tong.

Success in numbers*:

  • 23,600 wheelie bins of materials saved from landfill
  • 43,700 ponytails collected, which makes 2185 wigs
  • 89,900kgs of plastic kept in circulation (instead of ending up in landfill)
  • 1300kgs of e-waste saved from leaching toxins into the environment
  • 95,200 meals provided for the homeless thanks to recycling proceeds
  • 106,600kgs of paper recycled
  • 125,000kgs of metals diverted from landfill
  • 18,900kgs of hair collected from the salon floor that could soak up 63,100 litres of oil in a coastline spill
  • 16,400 litres of excess chemicals recycled back into water

*This information reflects Sustainable Salons’ activities in Australia and New Zealand from Feb 2015 to Nov 2018.


To find out more about Sustainable Salons or how you can get involved, visit or read their newspaper The Green Chair, which can be found in the Academy Salon.