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A good hair day

21 April, 2023

We need to talk more about climate change. Research by our friends at Virgin Media O2 found that 89% of young people feel concerned about the crisis – but only a third regularly talk to their friends about it. This silence causes problems, from isolation and loneliness to inaction and apathy. But for those tearing their hair out over climate change, could hairdressers be the solution? 

One salon in Sydney thinks they could be. Through a tailored training programme, A Brush with Climate, it is upskilling its hairdressers to start conversations with clients about climate action. Over 400 hairdressers have attended workshops with climate scientists where they learn the basics of climate science and role play possible conversations. Hairdressers are invited to tell their own stories and draw on external cues like the weather to spark a discussion. Through the conversations, clients can share their hopes and fears, and consider how they can help address the climate crisis.  

It’s not the first time hairdressers have been upskilled to affect change on a social issue. A project in Guinea has trained hairdressers to share family planning advice with customers, building on the strong, long-term and trusted relationships hairdressers and clients build over multiple sessions. The physical intimacy of hairdressing, and the safe, positive environment of a hair salon provide good conditions for difficult conversations. Over thousands of discussions, hairdressers also gain experience of reading social cues and judging when to move on: crucial skills for topics that are not always cut and dried. 

It’s exciting to see climate behaviour change programmes borrowing from what works in other sectors. And following the launch of the Net Zero Salons Programme by our friends at Net Zero Now, haircare businesses can get ahead by thinking creatively about not just their own emissions, but their broader social impact. With more and more of us ready to take climate action, programmes like this are likely to provide a welcome highlight. 

By Sarah Howden

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