5 Reasons Salon Owners are Afraid to Talk About Sustainability

During a recent survey of Sustain Beauty Co clients, we discovered over 67% of salon owners and stylists surveyed said that sustainability was extremely important to them. Music to our ears! However, only 37% of those same respondents said they felt their team were equally as passionate about sustainability. The irony here is that their team members were also surveyed, so…why the disconnect? Why do we feel like this is more important to us, than everyone around us?

The answer may lie in our fear of talking about it. Caring for the planet has become a hot topic and one that is also politicized and a bit touchy. We decided to dive deeper and explore some of the reasons we don’t talk about our home planet enough.

Lack of knowledge or understanding

Let’s face it, we don’t know what we don’t know and this topic is rapidly evolving. What we know today, will be flawed tomorrow and this lack of a clear understanding of what sustainability means or the issues surrounding it could be barrier number one for many of us. Intimidation or embarrassment clouds our ability to bring up the topic we don’t feel experts in. Remember – none of us are experts here.

Fear of being judged

Ask a crowded room whether to raise their hand if they would consider themselves a sustainable salon or spa and you’d be surprised at how many people DON’T raise their hands. Even those that do many things to be kind to the planet fear being judged by their peers for not living sustainably ENOUGH or for not being knowledgeable enough on the topic. This fear of what we aren’t yet doing stops us from being proud of the things we are doing and the intent and drive to do more.

Political or ideological differences

When did caring about nature and the future become a taboo topic at the dinner table?! Sustainability can be a politically charged topic for many, and some people may be hesitant to discuss it for fear of causing conflict or offending others with different political or ideological views.

Fear of change

Sustainability often involves changes in lifestyle, consumption patterns, and business practices and saying it out loud often makes it more real. Some people may be resistant to change (anyone you know coming to mind?) and when you avoid discussing sustainability it can be a way of avoiding the need to make changes. But, ignoring the subject doesn’t actually fix the problem and you could be actually alienating those around you that may assume you don’t care or aren’t willing to commit to more innovative ways of delivering your services. *Cough*….Gen Z…

Sense of helplessness

This one hits home for us. The enormity of the sustainability challenges we face can be overwhelming, and some people may feel helpless or powerless to make a difference. Eco-anxiety is a growing issue, particularly among the younger generations who will have to face this issue as they stand to lose the most as the planet sweats under climate change. As a result of this anxiety and sense of helplessness, many people cope by avoiding the discussion altogether.

It is important to create safe spaces for open dialogue and education about sustainability to help break down these barriers and encourage your team to engage in productive conversations about creating a more sustainable future. These discussions can be a way to show the staff you aren’t avoiding the topic and are interested in their perspectives and solutions.

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