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Hair salons trimming back waste

Danielle Kennedy, left, Sandra Aguiar and Jimmy LaPointe of Kiyo Salon show off some of the tools of the salon recycling trade available through the Green Circle Salons program.  - NIOMI PEARSON photo
Danielle Kennedy, left, Sandra Aguiar and Jimmy LaPointe of Kiyo Salon show off some of the tools of the salon recycling trade available through the Green Circle Salons program.
— image credit: NIOMI PEARSON photo

The next time you get your hair cut in the Harbour City, your leftover locks could be headed to soak up the next oil spill.

Some of Nanaimo’s hair boutiques are trimming back their impact on the environment through a specialized recycling program targeting the salon industry.

From foils to fringes, the Green Circle Salon program is helping green an industry notoriously known for its excessive waste.

“We provide salons a pathway to sustainability,” said Jennifer Hennessey, regional sales manager for Green Circle in Vancouver. “Most people are not aware that donated hair is being transformed into fiber mats or booms used in the cleanup of oil spills on our oceans, or that hair as it biodegrades, makes a great natural fertilizer.”

The program first launched on Vancouver Island in June 2012, but has been operating since 2009 across Canada.

Participating salons separate their foils, colour tubes, paper, plastics, hair and excess chemicals for pickup (weekly or biweekly) by Green Circle drivers.

“The foils and colour tubes are recycled in a very similar process to pop can recycling. The metal undergoes a high heat process like incineration to remove the chemicals before the bare metal is sent to smelter,” Hennessey said.

The program is paid for through one-time membership fees and a $1.50 eco-fee that is charged per client. The salon retains 50 cents of that eco-fee to make green improvements to their business, such as installing energy efficient lighting upgrades and organic refreshments.

Jane McCormick, owner of Luminence Salon in Cedar, was the first local company to sign up for the program. She was researching environmentally friendly products on the Internet when she came across Green Circle’s website.

“It’s helped our industry to be better,” she said. “Traditionally, salons have a lot of products that go to the landfill – all hair, all the foils, all the chemicals go down the sink. They create a lot of waste and by Green Circle doing this, we’re saving.”

Sandra Aguiar, manager of Kiyo Salon, said garbage bags have gone down significantly in the eight weeks they have been involved in the program.

“For us, it’s amazing to be able to recycle as much as we are able to,” she said.

Other participants in the green salon program include Serenity Salon, Vanilla Alley Hair Salon, Chamelon Salon, Adia Salon, Violet Hair Lounge and Persona Hair group.

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