I was AMAZED at the effort owner Jen Vanderleij puts in to avoid waste. If there ever were a true ‘green’ salon, Clover Salon would be it.
As I explained to Jen, I always thought that “eco friendly” in a salon referred to the products being used in hair treatments; you know, paraben free, ammonia free, that kind of stuff. But boy was I wrong.
In fact, salons are very wasteful, and that’s where Jen pays special attention. When Jen worked at other salons, she had set up recycling programs because it bothered her that the industry was so wasteful. Then the light hit her and she said, “why not turn that into an entire business model?”
So she set out to do it. And her vision of a salon that is “waste free with ecological kindness throughout, from waste basket to waterways” came true.
At Clover Salon, you will find one of the only places yearly audited by Green Workplace that has an 85% waste diversion rate. Their goal for next year is 90% – practically impossible.
“We are called “green office champions” because our waste is so much lower than that of even a Canadian household, let alone a business that sees up to 6000 visitors per year, “ says Jen.
How does one achieve an 85% waste diversion rate? Listen to this explanation from Jen:
“Greenworkplace comes in to weigh our waste…all types from paper to aluminum, organics to landfill etc., and uses our weights in comparison to statistics Canada…what they are looking at is the fact that we divert a much higher percentage of waste than we actually throw away. 85% more actually.”
Jen actually sifts through her garbage pails to sort out recyclables, and asks her suppliers to send her product with less packaging. Plus her back room is set up to be a “mini [waste] diversion palace” where her and her staff can sort garbage, not letting one piece of plastic or paper slip through the cracks.
“We’ve taken being an ‘eco-salon’ one step further in assuring that we are responsible for the waste that we, and our clients contribute to this space,” says Jen. (Man was I glad I walked into that salon with my trusty Starbucks tumbler. I wonder what Jen would have done with a paper cup after I left…)
But that’s not all. She has gone so far as to cut out perms and straighteners, petro-chemicals, ammonia, sulfates, products with animal testing (including cleaners), GMOs, DEAs and more. Also, where possible the salon is decked with refurbished and reclaimed furniture (you would never be able to tell, trust me).
Oh yeah, and they use Bullfrog Power.
“I think what we don’t use is more important than the things that we do… We keep our waterways and scalps cleaner than a standard salon. This is good for clients and stylists alike,” says Jen.
So one has to beg the answer to this question: “How much effort does it really take for a business to do all this?”
Luckily, Jen knows the solution, and is ready to share the secret with all:
“All they need to do…is put systems in place and a little bit of leg work.”
What does she mean by that? Well, for any business wanting to go green, according to Jen, they should “Mean it. You’ll fail if you don’t.”
“I think if you are legitimate and sincere in your mission, people will notice and know that you are the real deal if you are serious, honest and committed to all of the hard work that is involved in starting a green business. Without commitment well, you don’t have much,” explains Jen.
In other words, make a plan, set up a system, make sure everyone follows it, and stick to it.
I was so impressed by Jen’s efforts, I also had to ask about her certifications, and why they weren’t splattered all over her front window for good marketing. Turns out Jen is a greenie at heart (duh), and found out that many certifications for salons are basically a form of paid advertising…or just plain green washing. That being said, she’s looking into more options. (Hey, maybe you can send them along to her if you know of any).
So it seems that being green because you really care for the environment can still have a wonderful effect on business – because people will notice, even without the fancy logos on your marketing material. I say, and I’m sure Jen would agree, if you want to be green don’t wait for a certification – just go for it!
If you would like to visit Clover Earthkind Hair Salon, their address is 678 Richards St, downtown Vancouver. You can also visit cloversalon.com