Jaime Chevalier and her staff at Textures sweep up a lot of hair from the floor of her Virgil salon, and are accustomed to putting it in plastic bags to be picked up curbside weekly.
But starting this month, Chevalier is delighted to have found a company that is sending it to the Gulf of Mexico, to be made into booms that could be used to help soak up oil that reaches the coast.
It can also be used in the agricultural industry as fertilizer.
Not only is she glad to see it put to good use, she's grateful it is no longer taking up space in landfill. Ever seen photos of mummies buried centuries ago? They still have some of their hair. Put that hair in a plastic bag, and it takes even longer to decompose, she points out.
Although there are some 'green' hair products, salons use a lot of chemicals—they are not by nature the most environmentally-friendly of businesses, says Chevalier. But there are steps she can take to reduce the carbon footprint of her salon.
She has signed on with Green Circle, a Toronto company that helps salons like hers recycle some of their waste, including hair.
The company picks up discarded hair, plastic tubes and foils that are the mainstay of every salon, and ensures they will be recycled.
The regional curbside service won't take those items from hair salons unless they've been cleaned, and that's not practical, economical or good for the environment, she said.
"Putting those chemicals down the drain is not a good idea. Green Circle can ensure the metal in the tube is recycled, and the plastic is also cleaned and re-used. The amount of foil salons use could replace an airline fleet, but it can be recycled as well," said Chevalier.
"This is something we can do, so why wouldn't we?"
There is a cost, so clients will have the opportunity to pay an extra $1 to contribute to a service that provides a green, positive change, helping to reduce their environmental footprint.
"I don't expect anyone to have problem with that. They can refuse to pay it, but I don't anticipate that happening."
Chevalier says the salon puts out two to three bags of garbage weekly, but with the recycling service expects it will be down to one or less.