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Every journey may start with a single step but one Scottish hairdresser has taken a giant leap forward in showing just how eco-friendly a hair salon can be.  With hair dryers blasting out warm air, endless cups of coffee on the go and a high water usage, not to mention all those hair dye chemicals, a hair salon may not be on the top of anyone’s list of businesses with eco-friendly potential.  Yet for one Aberdeenshire salon, eco-friendliness has taken on a whole new meaning.

When the owners of Élan Hair Design in Inverurie decided to play their part in doing something for the environment, they didn’t just turn the heating down, they looked at every part of the operation to see what could be done to “make it green”.  Coinciding with a complete revamp of the premises, the owners of Élan Hair Design, the Milton family, went all out in their efforts to turn their salon into the UK’s most environmentally friendly place to have a haircut.

For a start the Milton family looked at ways to cut down on water, heat and power.  Many businesses consider adopting one energy-saving measure; the Miltons went for a suite of PV panels to generate electricity, solar panels for hot water and an air-source heat pump which saved 80% of heating costs.  With LED lighting, low temperature radiators and motion detectors all cutting down on energy consumption, Élan Hair Design has transformed its energy use.

And the savings don’t stop there.  Specially designed basins cut down on the amount of water used in washing hair by a massive 64% and the Miltons have installed a cleaning system which only uses cold water.

With power and water taken care of, the Miltons turned their attention to the salon itself.  The furniture is certified as carbon-zero and includes soya padding and FSC certified wood.  Floor tiles are made from re-constituted material and have been designed to be bacteria-resistant. Hair care products on offer include those produced by Aveda, a company which believes that “there is no responsible alternative to doing business other than through the pursuit of environmental sustainability.”

Of course, with such a drive to embrace eco-friendliness, you would expect Élan Hair Design to recycle all of its paper, glass and plastic but here again the salon goes one step further.  Using eco-towels made from wood fibres and environmentally friendly combs means that these can be recycled at the end of their life.  Adding to the compost mix goes tea bags and coffee grounds topped up by the hair cuttings which make a great source of nitrogen for plants.

It is rare to see a business so completely overhaul its eco policy and Élan Hair Design is already reaping the benefits with energy savings and an eco-image which stands out.  The salon was therefore a worthy recipient of a Green Apple Award in 2012.