In any conversation about innovators in fashion and beauty, the topic of sustainability isn’t far behind. Permeating the four corners of each industry respectively – be it via luxury capsule collections, boundary-defining e-commerce ventures, or ethical skincare ranges, to name but a few – fashion that cares is fast becoming the most popular and widespread trend of the year. But, it hasn’t always been the case...

“The UK has been a little slow to get on the recycling train,” explains Anita Rice, co-Founder of Ralph & Rice, and the newly launched Buller & Rice – London’s foremost sustainable hair salons. “The only way to further it, is via the industry that we work in, which is beauty.”

We’re meeting Anita and her business partner (and fellow stylist), Stephen Buller, in the latter of the two residences, which opened in August on the leafy peripheries of Newington Green. It’s since been touted as the place to go if you’re after a ‘do’ that does as good as it looks, which is why we were keen to learn more about the Buller & Rice philosophy from Buller and Rice themselves.

“As far as our ethos goes, we share everything,” Anita tells us.

“We have worked together for around eight years,” continues Stephen. “We have this kind of relaxed relationship, where we just bounce off of each other.”

On the subject of sustainability, both Anita and Stephen are equally passionate and just as committed, as the latter continued: “I feel that we all lost our way a little bit… We all got a bit, well, lazy. Sustainability doesn’t seem like a new thing, because being sustainable is a lot about going back to the basics, while moving forwards at the same time.”

Originally from New Zealand, and having grown up on a farm, the practice of eating seasonally and living without the instant gratification of big-city convenience is something that Anita is also fully familiar with. “Like Stephen says, it’s just what people used to do! When it came to the salon, I always said that I wanted to create a space that does hairdressing… If I can make everything sustainable and recyclable, then why not? Why wouldn’t I?

When we went to build the salon, it wasn’t just about the products we used. We offer our clients a service that means they can bring back their shampoo and conditioner bottles to refill them; we have vintage chairs that we've had reupholstered; our surfaces are made from a bio-laminate, which is all compressed cut grass that then makes a beautiful surface; the individual tables downstairs are made from melted-down, recycled yoghurt pots, which look a lot like marble.”

In terms of redefining the aesthetic that’s often associated with sustainable living, Buller & Rice is going the right way about it. “We were trying to convey an idea that interiors don’t have to look ‘shabby chic’ to be sustainable,” explains Anita. “They can have the aesthetic of something completely luxury! Sustainability requires just that little bit more effort.” 

Is this the thing that daunts some people? Perhaps, thinks Anita. “It can seem overwhelming to go completely plastic free, for example, but it’s much more accessible to limit our usage where and when we can. Loads of people take their own bags to the supermarket now, and that makes a huge difference! If everyone did a little bit, then it would eventually become the norm.”

At its heart, Buller & Rice is a beautifully situated salon, purveying quality hairstyling in a gloriously well-appointed area. Making their venture a sustainable one wasn’t a question for Stephen or Anita – but, it also wasn’t something that the duo viewed as a challenge. Far from being all-encompassing umbrella that pervades each and every crevice of this East London space, the sustainable aspect simply serves as a delectable cherry atop an already rather delicious cake.

Sustainability is about using and creating something so that the cycle of life can keep on going,” Anita concluded. It’s as simple as that.

Buller & Rice is open Tuesdays - Sundays at 36a Stoke Newington Green, N16 9PR.

In case you missed it, Caroline Issa is waxing lyrical about the sustainable denim you should really be wearing.