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Bury St Edmunds salon sets the trend by 'going green'

A salon owner is doing his bit for the environment by joining a scheme to recycle waste including hair, bottles, gowns and tin foil.

Gavin Downes, who runs Gavin Ashley Hairdressing on Churchgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, didn’t hestitate when he was presented with the chance to take part in the scheme.

The family run-business, which employs 15 people and which Gavin has run for 43 years this July, has joined the nationwide Green Salon Collective.

Gavin Ashley, wife Tonya with graduate stylists Abi Alderton and Jade Cornish, and Naomi Shepard, salon manager. Picture by
Gavin Ashley, wife Tonya with graduate stylists Abi Alderton and Jade Cornish, and Naomi Shepard, salon manager. Picture by

The collective’s mission is to ‘recycle the un-recyclable’ and is changing the 'face of hairdressing'.

“We began working with a new product company recently, Aveda, and they introduced us to the collective,” said Gavin, who runs the salon with his wife, Tonya.

“This was two or three weeks ago and we are now putting into practice some of the day-to-day changes which will all help the environment.

“We have five dedicated bins in the salon into which we put everything from hair to gowns and tin foil and these all go for recycling.

Hair for instance can be used to to make hair ‘booms’, like bags of hair, which can used to prevent or clean up oil slicks, or it can be used for composting, along with gowns.

Mr Downes pay a fee to the collective to take away his waste materials and recycle them. But he thinks it is more than worth it.

“The environment is so important - not just for our own - but even more so, future generations,” he said.

As far as I am aware we are the first salon in Bury to start doing this and I would encourage others to follow suit if they can as it is a great contribution the industry can make to the cause.

The majority of waste from salons is usually thrown out with regular rubbish and goes to landfill.

Now all bottles, PPE equipment, and towels from Gavin Ashley, for example, will be put to good use. Tin from making foils for hair colouring can be melted down to make recycled metal.

Chemicals are sent to a specialist facility that burns them with the heat and electricity generated being sent straight to the National Grid.

All profits from the collective selling waste for recycling go to Food Cycle and Haircuts 4 Homeless.

The collective also plants a tree every waste ‘returns box’ purchased.

“It’s also about educating not only those coming into the industry, but clients, too,” added Gavin.

“We now have the option for people to contribute a ‘green fee’ of £1.50 to the cost of their visit to help pay for it, but that is totally up to them.

“The reactions we have been getting are all very positive and it’s great to be doing our bit for the future of the planet.”

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