Meet the salon giving the hairdressing industry a sustainability glow up

While sustainability is a ubiquitous topic in the world of fashion and beauty, the conversation is still lacking when it comes to hairdressing. Spearheading a change for the better is Buller and Rice — London’s first sustainable salon. With an inclusive outlook for a wide client base, their stores across Newington Green, Wanstead and Walthamstow aim to educate hairdressers on how to move towards a more sustainable future; as echoed by their lifestyle concept parlours. Here, HUNGER chats to co-founder Anita Rice as she explains why seaweed foam cushions and hair clippings are the future of hairdressing.  

In hairdressing, sustainability is not often discussed. How did you first approach sustainability in the industry without much information out there?

When we started, the word ‘sustainability’ was never used within hair or beauty, it was only really seen in the food categories. Those early years were quite frustrating. Our first step was the design, and finding materials that were not mass-produced or those that came from regenerative sources. Then, we set out to find hair products that shared our beliefs and values of being forward-thinking regarding packaging and ingredients but still delivered results. Believe it or not, one of the hardest things was sourcing the best recycling system when the council had zero options for this. Now it is much easier as there are companies that have seen a gap in the market and you can privately recycle your waste with much more transparency.

What specific measures have you implemented to ensure Buller and Rice remain as sustainable as possible?

We use the green salon collective which ensures all of our waste that cannot be recycled (which is minimal) gets turned into green energy. Even our hair clippings are used to soak up oil spills from the ocean. We take a huge amount of pride in our design fixtures that showcase sustainable options used to create a luxury finish, even our flooring is repurposed vinyl that can be continuously recycled and the walls are made from grass cuttings pressed into bio-resins.

Why is it important to talk about sustainability in hairdressing? Why do you think it’s not spoken about as much as, say, sustainability in fashion? 

As pioneers and leaders in this space, it is key that we keep educating ourselves to continue to evolve and progress. There is no perfect option yet, so the industry must focus on progress, investment, and making better choices. The importance lies within the brand you partner with when it comes to installing eco heads on basins, and even looking at waste streams and schemes. It is the responsibility of the salon owner and brand to be more responsible and to take a stand.

At Buller and Rice, what does a ‘lifestyle concept salon’ mean to you?

The idea behind a concept salon is about curating an environment that reflects our core values. We concentrate on both the conscious and subconscious elements to enhance this. All of these are in line with our wider proposition, to gently guide people into making positive connections to our space.

How do your interior design choices incorporate sustainability? 

We take a reverse approach to our design, so we start by finding the materials and then we build out from there, as we are constantly researching new innovative designs. When we designed our space in Newington Green, our focus was on waste materials and bi-product, which led us to make furniture out of recycled yoghurt pots that mimic a luxury marble-like finish. We have used a lot of cork in the past, which is an incredibly beautiful and sustainable way of having a wooden interior, as the extraction of the bark doesn’t harm trees. With our latest project in Wanstead, we focused on plant matter, working with individual artists by exploring what already exists in nature and repurposing it. For example, the likes of algae for lampshades, seaweed foam cushions, mushroom leather fixtures, and seaweed curtains give latex a run for its money! 

What is your target audience for the lifestyle concept salon? 

We are an open-minded, inclusive, and diverse set of people. We have always worked with the Wayne’s World-inspired mantra of “If you build it they will come”. We believe if you stay true to your passion, values, and ethos it attracts people who take an interest in what you’re doing… Or just the people who want nice hair or a good coffee… either way, it’s working so far. 

What’s next for Buller and Rice?

In 2023, it will all be about education. We will host a number of workshops to talk through sustainability measures within hairdressing. We want to give the opportunity for our team to seek further education around sustainability, not just within hairdressing but within other industries. We want our young staff members to create their own collections with the option of being more industry-focused, so we will be moving forward with ‘Life & Wine’ (our new lifestyle store in Wanstead), which will undergo the mammoth task of being turned into an e-commerce store. It will work to find innovative makers and give them the opportunity to exhibit their works. So lots to keep us busy this year!

Banner Image CreditBuller and Rice