This season, hair is the latest thing going green from Dundarave to Deep Cove in the effort to make the Canadian salon industry fully sustainable by 2020.
Toronto-based company Green Circle Salons has certified nine salons on the North Shore including Supernova, Escape Salon, Verve, Raw Hair Lounge, Stamford, Zazou, T’sala, Yoko’s Haute Coiffure and the Die Lot as sustainable businesses.
Through Green Circle’s recycling program, up to 95 per cent of the waste — including hair clippings — from participating salons will be kept out of landfills, says Green Circle regional sales manager Jennifer Hennessey.
“Waste from salons was previously impossible to get rid of,” says Dana Lyseng, owner of Supernova the Salon in Lower Lonsdale.
After a day’s work, receptacles teem with miscellaneous waste items that are almost entirely recyclable. However, if there is bleach or hair colour on any of the waste it is categorized as chemical waste and cannot be processed by a conventional recycling program.
Those foils, colour tubes, excess chemicals, paper and plastics will now be separated in-house and collected by Green Circle.
The other obstacle that stood in the way of sustainability in the salon industry was that in order to meet the minimum amounts for private recyclers in Metro Vancouver, there must be a mighty substantial quantity of it. Accumulating and storing 1,000 pounds of foil or 1,200 pounds of paper is not possible for most salons, says Lyseng.
Green Circle collects from their salons weekly and stockpiles the material at a warehouse facility in Burnaby. This way, owners can pool their waste to help meet the recyclable minimums.
Oily hair is also being taken to a whole new level. Hair clippings from Green Circle-supported salons on the North Shore will also be warehoused in Burnaby. From there the clippings will be stuffed into nylon tubes and made into booms that assist in containing marine oil spills.
“We’re keeping it at the ready in the event of a West Coast spill,” says Hennessey.
Oil booms are generally made of any light, absorbent material, from peat moss to synthetic drywall insulation, says Bruce Turnbull, spokesman at the Western Canadian Marine Response Corporation. “On the scale of a large oil spill, I’m not sure if you could collect enough hair to have an impact,” says Turnbull.
During the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, 1,000 pounds of hair went to aid in the cleanup effort, says Hennessey.
“The hair is just like animal fur or feathers. It sucks the oil up like crazy,” she says.
Hennessey says the only obstacle left is getting awareness about the program out to the public.
“Once people know about the program, they sign up,” says Hennessey. “It’s a no-brainer.”
If it didn’t already sound like a good idea, the means to fund this initiative are already in place.
Every salon in Canada has a “green change purse,” says Lyseng. In this eco-based fee system, every client pays an automatic surcharge of $1.50 on each visit to the salon.
Of that $1.50, one dollar goes to Green Circle and 50 cents stays in the salon to fund other environmentally conscious changes such as LED lighting or double-paned windows.
Hennessey says that although Green Circle had been on an incredible growth trajectory since its launch in June, the primary mandate of the company is not profit.
“It’s about making sure the footprint of the industry is reduced,” she says.
Although many salon owners have become resigned to working in an industry with no available recycling program, it’s never too late to start.
“This is the last bastion of waste that wasn’t served by any recycling program,” says Hennessey.
Salon owners can jump on board for no extra cost and be a part of the change. Every split-end and dye-job counts towards a brighter, greener future.