Case: Élan Hair Design

Having created a niche position for itself in a fiercely competitive local market, Élan Hair Design has worked tirelessly to improve upon its position as ‘the UK’s most eco-friendly hair salon.’
Key to this innovative approach has been a commitment to incorporate almost every conceivable environmentally-friendly initiative – as demonstrated by a major ‘green’ refurbishment of its Inverurie town centre salon, completed in 2012.
The ongoing project includes the use of recyclable materials; PV panels to generate electricity and solar thermal panels to provide energy for hot water; LED lighting that uses 80% less electricity; and, an air-source heat pump, saving 80% on heating costs.
The salon understandably uses large volumes of water but thanks to the installation of a new basin system, water consumption has fallen by 64%.
Élan has also made substantial reductions in its carbon emissions and the amount of waste it sends to landfill. This includes sending customers’ hair clippings, along with other biodegradable waste, to be spread as compost on local farmers’ fields.
The business, established more than 40 years ago, is led by Lorna and Gordon Milton along with their daughters Lanice and Lauren.
Lorna Milton, owner and director of Élan Hair Design, said: “We made the decision to implement the new eco-friendly approach on the back of customer feedback which indicated they wanted a greener and more sustainable service.
“Since then the business has grown significantly with increased turnover as well as a rise in the number of customers visiting our salon.
“We have continued to make major inroads into reducing our environmental impact. This includes putting in place initiatives which have seen us reduce our carbon emissions by 90% and increase the amount of the salon’s waste successfully diverted from landfill to 95%.
“We believe these changes will help ensure the long-term success of the business.”
Élan Hair Design is unique, not only in the north-east of Scotland, but in the wider UK market too. Indeed, the environmental and commercial benefits gained by Élan could act as a template for other like-minded businesses throughout the country to follow.

Visit to the ‘Hair & Health’ institute: Dianne te Mebel’s Instituut Haar en Gezondheid

      During the Amsterdam conference we made a visit to a Green Salon. The Mebels's Institute. For the owner Dianne Mebels sustainability is not a trend, but a matter of obviousness. Dianne’s background: Dianne as a child wanted to be veterinarian. She was always very fond of animals and nature. She finished the VET school of agriculture and had the chance to do her school internship in a hair salon. There she was told that the agricultural college was a waste of her time. But later in her own salon it turned out that this school was not at all a waste of time. Her knowledge about nature, seeds and plants was ‘2nd nature’ to her but vital for her knowledge development in her current business. Years ago, when Dianne was working with chemical products only, a customer approached Dianne with the question if she could colour her hair with Henna.  She then started experimenting with ingredients. For example, using red wine and ground coffee. She liked working with it and she liked the smell. Moreover, she noticed that the colour result was very nice, the hair was also healthy. She always wanted to do something other than just chemical hair dyes, but she did not know what that should be. This customer did change her view on hair dyes. Dianne has been active with the use of natural hair products since 2002. 

In general there is an increasing use of natural products. There is however uncertainty about truly natural products and semi-natural products. This is very confusing for the consumer. Dianne believes that more clarity should be given. Many consumers think they use natural products, but in reality there are chemicals in it as well. Moreover, Dianne thinks it's unimaginable that women still destroy their hair with chemical hair dye. She wants to show these women that it can be different.

Visit Graphic Lyceum Utrecht during the Amsterdam-conference

We were welcomed by Joop Engelander and Bert van Toor from the Graphic Lyceum Utrecht (GLU). Joop gave an introduction on the school system in the Netherlands and the school itself.
After that there was a discussion which involved both students from the GLU and students from the project partners about ‘reducing early school dropout’. This topic is directly related to sustainability. Keeping the students inside the walls of your school makes the school more aimed at sustainable employability of students within the school. An important drop-out explanation given by one of the Dutch students was the decrease of motivation because of ‘bad teachers’, meaning teachers who are not able to make students motivated in their study field or just miscommunication with the teachers. We should not underestimate this. Unfortunately there was not enough time to finish the discussion and draw some general conclusions.

The group was divided in 2 and was taken for a tour around the school, involving students in the tour as well. Some students prepared a presentation on their subject of ‘young entrepreneurship’. In this class a group of maximum 7 students start a real company with real assignments. They divided the roles/functions amongst them, under supervision of a teacher, and they run the company as a real life learning experience. 

Hairdressing Heroes

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is about using education to highlight and address environmental issues such as climate change, population growth, the use of finite resources and social inequality.  The Sustainability in the Creative Industries European College project is an example of ESD practice whereby the College partners share knowledge and experience to promote sustainability.    
At Fife College, one of the exercises to promote sustainability in the hairdressing curriculum has been by using the Hairdressing Heroes workbook.  The workbook started as a work placement project with Dumfries and Galloway College as part of my MSc in Carbon Management.  As a result of this work I am now the Sustainable Development Adviser in the College and a Project Consultant with the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges.  In both roles I aim to promote sustainability in the curriculum across College education in Scotland.  I believe there is no area of the curriculum where ESD cannot be incorporated, however work is required to ensure staff have the knowledge and confidence to engage effectively with ESD.  Care also needs to be taken to avoid extra pressure on an already overstretched curriculum so that links can be made to existing course provision to incorporate ESD.   
Through this work I met Christine Laing from Fife College and realised she shared my passion in addressing sustainability issues through education.  To help achieve this Christine is determined to build a ‘green salon’ in the College as a valuable teaching resource for hairdressing students.  We decided to work together and Christine asked if I would meet with the Hairdressing students to show them links between environmental issues and hairdressing practices and also possible solutions to reducing the environmental impacts of hairdressing.  Leading on from this, the students are now working with the Hairdressing Heroes workbook to further their sustainability understanding. 
This Hairdressing Heroes workbook is designed to be used either directly by students, or by staff to assist them in embedding sustainability within their course delivery.  The workbook aims to link sustainability with current hairdressing teaching and practice, where appropriate, but it also addresses other areas of our lives that raise sustainability issues.  The workbook also utilises core skills teaching wherever possible, by using activities that incorporate literacy, numeracy and IT skills.  These activities can also strengthen employability skills by identifying financial savings by changing hairdressing practices.
I was thrilled when Christine asked me if I would present Hairdressing Heroes at the Sustainability in the Creative Industries event in May 2013 at Fife College as it gave me a chance to meet staff and students from the other European partner Colleges.  This project is invaluable in sharing experiences as there is always something we can learn from each other to enhance teaching practices and sharing sustainability knowledge is a positive step towards addressing environmental concerns.     
The Hairdressing Heroes workbook is now being improved through feedback from staff and students by research being conducted in a number of Colleges in Scotland, including Fife College.  As the European partners Colleges have also requested access to the workbook this could provide another means of testing the effectiveness of the workbook to incorporate sustainability into hairdressing teaching.    
Work is now underway to produce sustainability workbooks for other areas of the curriculum and the existing workbooks have also been adapted into online learning resources.  The first workbook in the series, Introduction to Sustainability, has also been formally accredited by the Scottish Qualification and Credit Framework.  All of this work is taking place at Dumfries and Galloway College; however the feedback received from other Colleges in Scotland and also from the European partner Colleges in the Sustainability in the Creative Industries project, will all help to inform future developments in embedding sustainability into the curriculum. 

Being part of the European project has given me an opportunity to discuss my ESD work with Colleges I would never have had access to, which I know will prove invaluable to my research.  In the long term I hope my research will influence ESD developments in Scottish College education and if this can be shared with other European Colleges through projects such as this then even better.  Meanwhile, in the short term, I will assist Christine in any way possible to realise her vision of a ‘green’ hairdressing salon in the College.   The ‘green’ salon could provide an example of best practice of incorporating sustainability into hairdressing teaching to be shared with Colleges across Scotland.      

By Elaine Crawford MA MSc