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Powell River hair salons cut waste

Going green creates positive and profitable results
hair care
HAIR CARES: Local hair salon owner Sheona Scott operates one of four local businesses that has signed on with Green Circle Salons, represented by regional director Will Simpson. The new environment-management service reduces wastes and toxins from hair and beauty services and products. Dave Brindle photo

With $5 billion a year generated in revenue, the hair industry in Canada is profitable, but it is also a polluter; much of it is toxic.

According to statistics provided by Vancouver-based company Green Circle Salons (GCS), hair clippings, foil and colour tubes, wastepaper, salon bottles and other paper and plastic items thrown out by hair salons across North America amounts to 421,206 pounds per day. GCS has found a market for disposing that waste responsibly.

Four of Powell River’s larger hair salons, Beyond Bliss Salon and Spa, Scizzors Salon and Body Works, Image 1 Salon and Spa, and Afterglow Hair Lounge, have bought in to GCS’ program for reasons of environmental responsibility and profitability.

According to Holly Lowes, owner of Afterglow Hair Lounge, the marketing advantage that comes from being green increases profitability. 

“The way the world is going now, people are concerned about the environment and a lot of people are looking to support businesses that make an effort to keep the planet cleaner,” said Lowes.

Calling itself a movement for sustainable beauty, GCS manages hair salon and spa waste and prevents it from entering landfills and streams.

“What we do is repurpose and recycle up to 95 per cent of the waste,” said Will Simpson, regional director for GCS.

According to Simpson, customers of participating Powell River salons will now have their hair styled and cut in a sustainable fashion.

“I see how much waste we have,” said Sheona Scott, owner of Beyond Bliss Salon and Spa. “I see how much garbage goes out: colour tubes, hair cuttings, foils and cotton pads. Every service has an element of disposal to it.”

Scott and the other GCS-certified salons can now answer the question anyone who has ever sat in a salon chair asks at least once, “Where does all that hair go?”

“The hair gets used for oil-spill cleanup,” said Simpson.

Industry practice for hair clippings has been to bag and send it to landfills, where it is slow to decompose, he added.

GCS makes what it calls “booms” out of the hair to soak up oil and chemical spills.

“The hair absorbs oil and can then be wrung out so oil can be reclaimed and the boom can be reused,” said Simpson.

Scott said when clients are now told where all the hair goes, they are excited to know it will be used to soak up chemical and oil spills.

“It’s exciting because they’re doing a little part just by getting their hair cut,” said Scott.

In turn, because everyone talks to their stylist, information made available to clients about the GCS service raises environmental awareness.

The hair industry is one in which money can literally be seen going down the drain. Scott said she has reduced waste and added to her bottom line.

“I would see dollars going down the drain,” she said. “It’s also toxins. It’s chemicals going down the drain and into our water system.”