The salon: it’s where we go to feel refreshed and pampered, and where many enjoy a glass of wine and friendly banter with their stylist. But few people realize the negative impact that salons have on our environment.
Things like chemicals from hair treatments rinsed down our water pipes, excessive water waste from shampoos and rinses, contaminated plastics, metals and paper ending up in our landfills instead of being recycled, and so much more, are the consequences. Benjamin Novak Hudgins of Fort Worth is challenging the salon status quo. Hudgins is making a difference with his new salon, Novak Hair Studios, which opened in March, has been granted a Green Circle Salon Certification, and is nearly 95% sustainable. Oh, and did I mention a portion of the salon’s proceeds go to saving honeybees and feeding underprivileged families? Yes, the goodwill is flowing here.
Tell me about the Green Circle Salon Certification (GCSC) – what kinds of things is your salon doing to be environmentally friendly?
We participate in a scheme that recycles hair clippings. They are packed into devices designed to float and create a barrier, that are then launched into our waterways to help clean up oil spills contaminating our oceans. Also, if you ever have had or seen hair foiled, you already know the amount of waste that creates. Those mountains of foils, which are covered in chemicals, can no longer be put into standard recycling. Eventually they’re tossed in the landfills. We collect the contaminated foils and send them off to be melted down and used to create electricity. We even take the leftover chemicals that would have been washed away into drinking and ground water and send it to be spun to separate chemicals from clean drinking water.
How else is your salon taking sustainability to the next level?
With our building and style designs. Our fresh air initiative removes the carcinogenic air you have come to know from salons through air purifying systems and plants that have natural air purification properties, like aloe. Our LED lighting throughout the salon and each studio, including our grand Edison bulb chandelier, all have motion detection to minimize our electrical waste. We even stepped it up with our shampoo experience, featuring water-saving devices on every single water fixture in the salon.
What is your “Save the Bees” initiative?
Our commitment to donating a percentage of our profits to helping save bees comes from the legacy behind the name “Novak.” I was named after a humble man who, after coming back from World War II, began living his life by passion. He found a way to turn his passion for beekeeping into a way to raise his family. He spent the majority of his life teaching others about how crucial bees are to life on earth. In a time where few others were acknowledging the changes that were happening to our foods and our environment, he was saying “something is wrong here” and spending his time educating others and even developing beekeeping techniques that are still used in modern day beekeeping. I’m proud to say this man is my Grandpa, and his legacy lives on through Novak Hair Studios.
What is the state of modern beekeeping?
Unfortunately, his predictions became wildly true. Between April 2015 and April 2016, beekeepers across the U.S lost 44% of their honeybees and continue to lose bees every year. Some people don’t know that without our pollinators, such as the honeybee, humankind is only predicted to live for four years after the loss.
Talk about the impact of the Honeybee Conservancy, which you partner with.
One of the biggest impacts The Honeybee Conservancy has is through their Sponsor-A-Hive program that places hives and makes more fruitful gardens in local community gardens. That then helps feed fresh fruits and vegetables to underprivileged families.
Tell me a little about your background.
I grew up in a home with a single mother who had a bachelor’s degree, and who struggled to get equal pay for equal work. My father had died, and the only way we had dinner on the table was because of community food pantries. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I even learned that fresh vegetables were available. This left me with some unhealthy habits that even today I struggle with. So, the idea of breaking unhealthy cycles in young people makes this initiative even more exciting for me.
What made you want to open an eco-friendly salon?
I always find ways to challenge the status quo in both my personal life and my professional life. When I learned that it was possible to divert up to 95% of salon waste out of landfills and less than 1% of salons today are doing this, I knew that it was time to make a difference. Salons are known for being huge wasters and we have the ability to touch so many lives. Why not use the talents that we were gifted with to do good for the planet?”
What beauty advice would you give people wanting to be more environmentally friendly?
I think it’s important to know that four major corporations own over 90% of the beauty industry. They are only looking out for their investors, and making the most amount of money at all cost. You, your health, and the environment are that cost. You should support small businesses, such as our partners, Eufora International, who are committed to making the most out of your purchase. We love them not only because their products are incredible and work, but because they are so pure you could drink them. I wouldn’t recommend that though! Even their packaging is designed to minimize waste.
Are the products you use also cruelty free?
They are! A lot of other products will claim that their completed products are not tested on animals. What they don’t tell you is that they test the individual ingredients on animals. Beauty is not worth sacrificing a life. Your integrity is worth more!
Amanda Ogle is a freelance writer/editor based in Fort Worth.