Before I was a dog groomer, I was an animal lover. I was also a recycler. I learned to groom dogs because I am an artistic person from a visually artistic family. I also wanted to work hands–on with dogs.
In the early 1970s, nobody addressed energy efficiency or what individuals could do to have an impact on environmental conservation. Those of us who were concerned learned from each other.
Dog grooming is a very energy–intensive industry in terms of how small businesses operate. We use an extreme amount of electricity and water for the amount of economic impact we have on both our environment and communities.
So, what can we groomers do to create less of a carbon footprint?
1 We can be aware of what we’re doing. A positive side effect of being mindful is that our net profits will improve if we don’t waste money using energy we really don’t need.
2 Do you know how long it takes you to groom an “average” dog? If not, set a timer and start figuring out how long it takes. You need to know this because you are going to ultimately figure out, per dog, how much you pay for water and electricity to groom each dog. That includes how long the lights are on. Your fees should be based on your costs plus how much income you have to earn.
3 I learned to groom before there were force dryers, so we cut off hair we knew we didn’t want to dry. You will not do a better job grooming just because you take more time to bathe and dry hair you plan to get rid of.
4 If you allow water to run in the tub, you are paying for hot water to go down the drain. Using a sprayer that cuts off when you are not actually wetting the dog saves water and money.
5 It is also a fact that it’s not the suds that clean the dog, but the active ingredients in shampoo that, when agitated against the hair, do the cleaning. If you under dilute shampoo to get “rich lather,” you are not just wasting product, but the time and water you will spend rinsing. It might make sense to buy a shampoo dispensing system if you are bathing more than 10 dogs a day. Otherwise, you are diluting shampoo by hand, and often wasting some in the process.
6 Do you let your dogs stand or lie down for a few minutes before toweling them? After you squeeze most of the water out of the coat, you can let evaporation do some of the work for you.
7 In a small space, a dehumidifier makes all the difference in how long it takes to dry a dog. You’re dealing with relative humidity. Notice how much longer it takes to dry a dog on a humid day than on a cold, dry day?
8 You can also allow dogs to rest on a towel for a few minutes before using a force or cage dryer. After a few minutes, brush the dog to separate the hair, as this breaks up the surface area you have to dry. You may have to experiment with how long to allow a dog to rest, but this saves a lot of hand–drying time.
9 Did you know that cut hair can be composted? In fact, in the Fall, many of my clients want it to wrap flower bulbs in. Hair–wrapping of bulbs tends to discourage the squirrels from digging them up. I also have a few eccentric clients who want to spin hair into yarn. So, I save it for them. In order to spin it, it has to be brushed hair, where the fibers are “jumbled.”
10 After washing your towels (and making sure not to use too much detergent), you could try line–drying them for several hours before putting them into an electric tumble dryer, if your space and environment allow for this.
11 Make it a point to keep as much out of the trash as possible, because there is no “away.” When we dispose of garbage, we also pay for a place to put it.
12 You might want to ask your power company if they provide energy audits for your business. Many do this for free. They might even give you energy–efficient light bulbs and new motion–detecting light switches.
We can all be environmental stewards by making a few small changes to our daily grooming practices. Are you doing your part to make dog grooming a more environmentally–friendly industry? ✂️