Can a hair salon catalyze social change? Green Circle Salons do!

September 16, 2016

The average hair salon produces over 800 kilograms of waste per year, including hair trimmings, discarded foils and colour tubes. Most of this material ends up in landfills, where the hair in particular mummifies rather than breaking down, contributing to methane emissions and climate change.

Green Circle Salons is providing solutions to over 700 Canadian and US salons to help change this story, diverting 85 to 95 percent of solid waste from landfill and 7 to 10 percent of liquid chemical waste from our water systems for their member salons.

Most recycling collection companies are unable to collect hair or soiled foils, especially in limited quantities at the salon level. But Green Circle Salons has created a model where they provide coordinated pick up of these materials, aggregate the smaller volumes into larger quantities, and find innovative uses for the lot.

For example, during the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, human hair from the Green Circle Salon program (along with pet fur) was used to soak up the oil, crafted into oil absorbing sponges called ‘booms’. Hair attracts oil (and repels water), making it the perfect material when it comes to oil spill disasters.

In B.C., hair clippings from over 200 Green Circle Salons are sent to Fraser Regional Correction Centre, where female inmates are learning the skills necessary to craft ‘booms’ which are then stored at a Burnaby warehouse in the event of a local spill.

Green Circle Salons charge a small environmental fee to their clients ($1-2), which goes to fund the recycling program, as well as create a green fund at the salon which can be used to invest in further improvements like higher efficiency lighting or solar panels.

With over 5,000 salons in the Lower Mainland to choose from, Green Circle Salons is making it easier to find the perfect salon for your next haircut – one where you can look great and feel even better that your dollars are creating meaningful employment (and green jobs!) for at risk women, and also reducing the devastating effects of oil spills.

Read more about Green Circle Salons and their innovative program at Salon Today.

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