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Green salons hope bills won't cut too deep

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Energy efficiency and everyday green work practices were at the top of the agenda when Gess and Peter Maziz established their La Bimbi hairdressing salons in Belconnen and Acton.

Mr Maziz, a chartered accountant, assessed the potential cost savings of green design features such as cross-ventilation to cut air-conditioning use in summer. The couple also cast a critical eye over energy consumption of salon equipment such as hairdryers and straighteners.

''We already had a personal green philosophy, because with three children you do tend to worry about what their future world will be like. Gess has always been interested in holistic philosophies, and so making the salons green work environments was something we both wanted to do,'' Mr Maziz said.

Their business employs 20 full-time staff and has won national and international hairdressing awards. Last year, Ms Maziz and Acton salon manager Daniel Grayswood were named among the top five cutters and colourists in Australia.

The salons recycle paper and packaging, and minimise lighting and water use. They use eco-certified products and are mindful about disposal of chemical waste, such as hair colouring.

Despite these green initiatives, they're worried about the impact of the carbon tax. Mr Maziz said it had been difficult to find information about likely costs and admitted to ''pretty much flying blind'' until the salons receive their September electricity bills.


''We don't know if we'll breathe a sigh of relief or whether it will hit us like a sledgehammer,'' he said.

They're expecting electricity costs to increase because they also run an aromatherapy treatment spa, which requires towels and robes to be laundered daily. The cost of aluminium foils used to apply hair colouring highlights are also likely to increase. And with costs ranging from $105 to a $175, there's not much room to pass on additional carbon costs.

Mr Maziz said running a green, socially responsible business is not just about recycling, switching off the lights and using eco-friendly products.

''We invest in our staff and we're proud of the training we offer. We're organising a work retreat at the moment, getting in experts to take courses - not just technical skills, but team-building and personal development. Good training opportunities are essential to attract and retain good staff, and that's the last area where any business can afford to cut costs.''