The Covid pandemic has seen a dramatic increase in the use of disposable items. In particular, disposable salon towels have become a mainstay of hairdressing businesses, among others, not least due to their ease of use and affordability. However, these towels brands are often marketed as “sustainable” (or similar) even though single use products tend to not reflect the principles of sustainability.


We have witnessed rising uncertainty and concern in the hair and beauty industry with disposable towels becoming a recurring question both during our accreditation process as well as in everyday conversations with our members. Consequently, we have decided to conduct an objective study comparing the environmental (and financial) costs of disposable and reusable salon towels. We are open minded going into the study about which option is best and that it might be different in different scenarios.⁠


This study will focus on four key impacts:

  • Water: use, laundering, waste
  • Energy // carbon: use, transport, laundering
  • Disposal // waste: weight, frequency, compostability/biodegradability, recyclability, landfill
  • Cost: procurement, labour, disposal

The following impact will not be covered by this study but is an important consideration that may be considered by a future study:

  • Toxicity: (landfill, microplastics, laundry detergent, fabric conditioner, bleach)

Our study will draw on hairdresser perspectives as well as an analytical approach. We will also reach out to the UK’s leading disposable towel companies to seek cooperation but the study will largely rely on publicly available information. We will also be engaging an independent consultant to perform assurance on our analysis.


Our intent is to openly publish the findings so our members and other hairdressing businesses can make more well-informed procurement choices. We will also be sending recommendations to the towel companies, should there be a need to do so.


This study is a collaboration between Green Salon Collective, Stephanie Hodgson, Eoin McQuone and Raechel Kelly. This project was developed by Stephanie as part of her role as Head of Research and Development for GSC. She has outsourced the initial research phase (assessments of water, energy, disposal and cost) to Eoin from Go Climate Positive, a consultancy firm specialising in calculating, reducing and offsetting carbon footprints for businesses. Raechel, consultant at The Liminality and Director of GSC’s accreditation program, is consulting on the entire project and will be integral to disseminating the findings.



If you have any questions about the study, please feel free to reach out to Stephanie at research@greensaloncollective.com. If you would like to contribute to the study, please take the five minute survey by CLICKING HERE.



Visit MeetthefiveRs to learn more about strategies for a circular economy.


Visit Go Climate Positive to learn more about how to do “more good, not less bad”.


Visit The Liminality to learn more about holistic sustainability and regenerative business.

Stephanie Hodgson