Your salon disposes of a great deal of paper and cardboard. Even if yours is a “paperless” business (for example, you print neither receipts nor invoices), much of your inventory probably comes in small branded boxes which were probably shipped to you in larger boxes. You may also have an assortment of magazines or newspapers that you offer for reading material. Your business may even be a dumping ground for takeaway cups which, as you will see, typically cannot be recycled with the rest of your paper. Your salon brings in as well as disposes of a steady flow of paper and cardboard which, as you well know, you often pay for on both ends


Paper is highly recyclable and it is incredibly important to make sure it does actually get recycled. Read our article Why is it important to recycle paper? to understand why. In this article, you will learn about how your business can help stop deforestation and save the trees!


Paperless receipts and invoices. Many point of sale (POS) systems now let businesses offer their in-store customers paperless receipts which can be sent by email or text message. This is good news as many receipt printing systems are designed for BPA-containing paper which is both toxic and non-recyclable. Wix and Shopify are two examples of POS systems offering paperless receipts. Similarly, invoicing can be prepared without paper and there are many options on the market for all sizes of business. These two simple solutions will be huge steps in helping to fully digitize your salon and banish unnecessary paper from your business space.


“Going paperless”. By going paperless, we mean organising and managing your business completely digitally thereby eliminating actual, physical paper for things like paychecks, invoices, bills and tax returns. It involves digitally archiving all of your businesses current and past documents and integrating a virtual management system for future documents.


Writing for Forbes, Eugene Xiong points out two approaches for businesses to ditch needless paper: by converting existing documents to digital or by not using paper to begin with. He lists eight reasons to do either or both:


  • Save money and a tremendous amount of storage space.
  • Streamline and accelerate critical business processes.
  • Enable customer self-service.
  • Make accessing documents and information faster and easier.
  • Reduce the time and cost of editing, changing, and redistributing documents and forms.
  • Protect documents from getting lost or, worse, destroyed.
  • Improve the security of your data and confidential information.
  • Cut down on approval cycles.

  • The full article provides many ideas for going paperless and examples of ways to begin to do so. To read that, click here.


    Reusable cups. When you and your stylists go for a cuppa, bring your own. You may already know that all the big coffee chains and some small ones discount from 25p to 50p off your coffee just for bringing a reusable cup. But did you ever add that up? If you were to buy a cuppa each working day for a year (eg five per week, 50 weeks per year), you could save £125. That’s 55 grande caffe Americanos from Starbucks or 125 filtered coffees from Pret a Manger.


    It may seem straightforward but nevertheless we decided to also mention cuppas in your salon. How do you serve warm or cold drinks to your clients and staff? The most obvious swap out here, if you haven’t already done so, is to have old-fashioned reusable cups to hand. This will most definitely result in savings over time especially if your staff can minimise water usage.


    Recycled paper. Here are some facts about recycling paper that may entice you to seek out recycled paper products and also to make sure your paper waste gets recycled:


  • Using recycled paper to make new paper reduces the number of trees that are cut down, conserving natural resources. 
  • Every tonne of recycled fibre saves an average of 17 trees plus related pulping energy. 
  • In some instances, recycling services are cheaper than trash-disposal services. 
  • By using waste paper to produce new paper, disposal problems are reduced. The savings are at least 30,000 L of water, 3000–4000 kW h of electricity and 95% of air pollution for every tonne of paper used for recycling. Also, 3 yd3 of landfill space are saved. And in many cases, recovering paper for recycling can save communities money that they would otherwise have to spend for disposal.
  • Compared with virgin paper, producing recycled paper involves between 28% and 70% less energy consumption. Also, less water is used. This is because most of the energy used in papermaking is the pulping needed to turn wood into paper.
  • Recycled paper produces fewer polluting emissions to air and water. Recycled paper is not usually re-bleached and, when it is, oxygen rather than chlorine is usually used. This reduces the amount of dioxins that are released into the environment as a by-product of the chlorine bleaching processes.
  • High-grade papers can be recycled several times, providing environmental savings every time.
  • Producing recycled paper actually generates between 20% and 50% fewer carbon dioxide emissions than paper produced from virgin fibres.
  • Because used paper is usually collected fairly near to recycling plants, manufacturing recycled paper reduces transport and carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Recycling paper reduces the volume of waste while helping to boost the local economy through the collection and sorting of waste paper.

  • This list was compiled by Pratima Bajpai in her book about recycling paper. Find it in the references section below!


    Responsibly managed forests. Most of us have heard of FSC or at least spotted the label but how many of us actually understand what they stand for? The Forest Stewardship Council has created voluntary standards for forestry management so that consumers can see whether the product they are looking at comes from sustainable sources. The criteria for a sustainably managed forest goes beyond environmental factors (eg protecting biodiversity). It is also designed to safeguard social rights (eg supporting Indigineous Peoples that live and work in affected forests) and promote economic prosperity for smallholders (eg small-forest producers).


    The FSC is an incredibly useful gauge for ethics not just for wood and timber but also for fibres (eg paper and packaging) and textiles (eg viscose). And did you know that rubber comes from trees? Well, at least the natural kind and so FSC also covers the wide range of products made from this material. 


    Acquiring FSC certification is no easy feat so the label carries a certain level of venerance. That is not to say that products or packaging not bearing the label is not sustainable. They may well be. Some producers struggle as they face stringent FSC certification standards. Others prescribe to other ideals around sustainable management (eg PEFC or Rainforest Alliance). On the other hand, however, the world is rife with forest mismanagement and unmonitored deforestation so it is our recommendation to do your research and only accept verifiable sources.


    Compost. Paper is great for your compost. A healthy compost heap has a good balance of “greens” that are rich in nitrogen (eg vegetable scraps, fresh grass clippings and hair) and “browns” that are rich in carbon (eg paper, dry leaves and eggshells). For paper in your compost, Happy DIY Home suggests the following:


    “Paper products like paper towels and napkins (no prints), coffee filters, newspaper, cardboard, printer and notebook paper can all be added to your compost. Those flimsy paper plates are good, too. Be sure the paper items you’re adding don’t have glossy, colored finishes, as the chemicals can break down into your DIY compost bins.”


    If you’re looking to make a real go of home composting, have a look at their comprehensive guide by clicking here


    Green Salon Collective has even more solutions for your salon. Be sure to read our article, Paper waste: Responsible disposal solutions


    This article was written for Green Salon Collective by MeetthefiveRs

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    References and further reading

    MeetthefiveRs’ article, Plastic is not the enemy and paper is not necessarily the solution

    The BBC article, Plastic or paper: Which bag is greener?

    The Guardian article, War on plastic waste faces setback as cost of recycled material soars

    Metro News’ article, Drinking coffee from disposable cups could be ‘seriously’ bad for you as you swallow microplastics

    The Blueprint’s article, How Your Small Business Can Go Paperless

    Northern Ireland Assembly’s briefing note, Comparison of environmental impact of plastic, paper and cloth bags

    National Geographic’s article, You eat thousands of bits of plastic every year

    Valpak’s Paper cup recycling scheme

    Forbes’ article, Going paperless: A journey worth taking

    Pratima Bajpai’s book, Recycling and Deinking of Recovered Paper

    Happy DIY Home’s article, DIY compost bin ideas: How to make compost at home

    Stephanie Hodgson

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