Small business sustainability: Good and green is easier than you think – Linkedin – Mar 5, 2019

March 5, 2019


Brian Phillips, owner of Toronto-based worldSALON, is a leader in sustainability and proof that operating in an environmentally responsible way is achievable, affordable and valuable for small businesses.

In business for almost 30 years, worldSalon has a loyal following of customers that want the best in salon services and value a brand that takes steps to decrease its environmental impact.

Here are just some of the steps Brian’s taken to reduce his salon’s environmental footprint and lower operating costs:

  • WORLD Hair and Skin, the salon’s line of healthy, natural, multi-purpose hair and skin products aimed at reducing plastic though a recent partnership with zero-waste Toronto refill depot Saponetti
  •  Solar panels on the salon’s roof that displaces 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year (equivalent of 40 cars off the road per year)
  • Efficient energy systems including hot water on demand, LED lighting, high efficiency forced air furnaces, split system air-conditioning, passive air flow cooling through cross-ventilation and low flush toilets
  • Urban renewal wellness boulevard garden that draws the attention of onlookers and pollinators at the busy intersection of Jarvis and Adelaide East

Salons generate some nasty waste, however, Brian is able to divert this waste from his salon through a partnership with Green Circle Salons that recycles and repurposes hair clippings, used foils, colour-tubes, excess hair colour, papers and plastics, glass, electronics, aerosols and spa waste, and diverts it all from landfills and waterways.

Next time you’re getting a cut and you see your hair falling to the floor, think about this: Hair is hydrophobic and biosorbent which means it repels water but absorbs heavy metals and other contaminants, so the hair clippings that Green Circle Salons recovers are made into oil booms and mats that are used to soak up oil spills. The booms were used in the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and are also used by residents who find oil slicks washing up on the shores of their local beaches. To date, Green Circle Salons has have diverted more than 5 million pounds of salon waste through partnerships like the one with Brian and worldSalon.

Absent on many of Canada’s greenest lists are small independent businesses, yet Canadian SMEs which, in 2015 totalled 1.14 million, contributed 30% on average to the gross domestic product (GDP) of their province (2014).

It’s time to recognize small businesses, their innovative efforts and their impacts. It’s also time to provide tools that are affordable and easy to navigate so entrepreneurs like Brian can focus on running their business but also measure their impact, validate their efforts and contribute to the business case for sustainability to inspire and encourage other small businesses to do the same.

What is your business or SME employer doing to reduce its impact on the environment? What partnerships could help you achieve this? What’s important to your stakeholders?

Carol-Ann Granatstein is a Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner and Strategic Communications Consultant who develops, leads and amplifies programs that align with an organization’s business goals and strategy. Her mission is to embed sustainability into every business while helping them achieve financial success.