Eco Heroine

Sirocco Hair (1) A

I’m intrigued by the concept of ‘strange bedfellows’: whether it’s an artistic connection, political ideology, or even involves real live people who shouldn’t be coupled together, but are, and instead of the anticipated disaster it all somehow works out wonderfully.

Now here are some strange bedfellows: beauty, hair styling and the environment. Beauty salons and hair dressers often seem to exist in a serious chemical cloud, as evidenced by the toxic smell which assaults you when the salon door opens. Whoa! The noxious chemical odour can almost send you reeling. What if there was a salon which did great hair styling, with edgy designs, beautiful cuts and fresh colours – but was completely ecologically sustainable? A salon whose practices are so ahead of the pack that they are not just ‘green’, they’ve re-defined the colour. A salon whose time has come; and its home is right here in the West End.

Sirocco Hair (2) A

At Sirocco Hair owner Leanne Mason has created a model for the salon of the future. She has been a hairdresser for 15 years, working in Sirocco for six before she took over the business 18 months ago. The salon was already eco-conscious, but she further explored how the salon could really reduce its waste. At first it was via a mainstream route: recycling bins, composting and re-useable containers, but Leanne knew they could do better. “Before thinking about renewable energy sources we need to eliminate our current waste and inefficiency”.

Their old towels go to the RSPCA, magazines from the waiting area are dropped off at a local doctor’s surgery and hair sweepings from the salon’s floor go to the community garden at Wickham where they are mixed into the compost. Aluminium foil is recycled, the hair colour the salon uses is 100 per cent sustainable with Leanne trialling all the products herself, refusing to have stock that she doesn’t love and whose results are not top rate. The small pots which contain the colour are washed and re-used, becoming tiny pots for miniature succulents which are dotted around the salon.

Sirocco Hair (5) A

A key partnership for Sirocco is with the inspiring organisation Sustainable Salons, a comprehensive resource recovery service designed for the salon environment. How it works is brilliantly simple: they pick up left over hair colour and wax from salons and then process it, breaking it down for reuse. Amazingly the colour waste is eventually turned into water which is so clean it is almost drinkable. When the improvements made to the salon were quantified the results were gratifying, in one year alone Sirocco saved 18,030 litres of water and 1,080 kilowatts of energy.

Sirocco Hair (4) A
Sirocco Hair (3) A

When Newcastle City Council did a waste audit the salon had only 4 per cent waste, an extraordinarily low amount. Leanne didn’t congratulate herself, but instead set the salon a new target “I thought if our waste is down to 4 per cent, how about we make it zero?” So she and her staff pulled together as a team and did it.

And that is the piece de resistance. The salon has no waste. When I visited Leanne she was organising for Newcastle City Council to come and pick up their garbage bins and take them back. Why? Wait for it – they don’t need them anymore, there is nothing to put in them. Sirocco Hair is the face of sustainable, zero impact beauty. And Leanne? She’s my eco heroine.

Sirocco Hair, 10 Wood Street, Newcastle West Phone: 4962 3070. Email: siroccohairlab@gmail.com. Web: http://www.sirocco-hairdesign.com.au. Online bookings are available. Open: Monday 12noon-8.00pm, Tuesday closed, Wednesday 8.00am-8.00pm, Thursday 9.00am-8.00pm, Friday 9.00am-5.00pm, Saturday 9.00am-4.00pm, Sunday closed. Find them on Facebook: Sirocco Hair and Beauty, Newcastle and on Instagram: Siroccohair.

Sustainable Salons: http://www.sustainablesalons.com.au

Kimberly O’Sullivan

Have you chosen the West End as your home or as the perfect place to run your business? Do you have a West End tale which deserves a wider audience? What inspires or infuriates you about the West End? If you have a story to tell I would love to talk to you! Here’s how to find me: kimberly@netspace.net.au; 0413 250 155.

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2 responses to “Eco Heroine

  1. Fabulous article Kimberly. Three ideas stand out for me. One is that the synchronicity between systems is quite mind blowing in the forging of totally new links. Leanne’s actions is already having an impact well beyond her immediate awareness, as we spread the message of eco awareness. Imagine the conversation when she returns her bins? Secondly her example will inspire many others, far more that just speaking about the issues, which of course is still necessary. Thirdly the ‘trim tab’ idea, where a small change can have significant and unexpected positive ramifications, should inspire us all with every piece of rubbish we recycle, every drop of water we save, and each individual we inspire to do the same. Thank you Leanne and thank you Kimberly, cheers, Mark Gaul

  2. Thanks so much Mark. One of the issues you raised was particularly intriguing to me i.e. ‘What did Newcastle City Council say when a business rings to have their rubbish bins returned to them?’ Given, I am sure, that this has never happened in their history. The answer (from Leanne – I asked her cause I was very curious to know) was – nothing. They just came and picked the bins up and took them away. What a missed opportunity! Leanne should be named Eco Star of Newcastle and offered a lucrative speakers fee to travel throughout the city advising business on waste reduction. It’s interesting to me that she is so far ahead of the pack that I think Council didn’t know how to react.

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