Bangz Salon of Montclair, one of the largest in the state, announced that it is working with Toronto company Green Circle Salons to recycle 95% of their waste, including human hair.
Julia Martin, North Jersey Record
Stylist Andy Tipton had been working happily at Montclair’s Bangz Salon and Wellness Spa for years when something started to bother him.
“It’s been very conflicting for me to see all the waste that a salon produces,” he said. “It’s not just Bangz, it’s every salon, but we are one of the biggest in the state, so the amount of waste is enormous.”
He raised the issue with Bangz owners Dominic Sansevero and Richard Cronk, who embraced the idea of becoming more sustainable, and let Tipton run with it.
The stylist discovered Green Circle Salons, a Toronto company that helps salons repurpose up to 95% of their beauty waste, including hair, leftover hair color, foils, color tubes, aerosol cans, paper and plastics. Tipton and his manager, Annie Semmel, completed the company’s training, then trained the salon’s 35 stylists in the new recycling system.
Now, three recycling stations are set up at Bangz, which is housed in a soaring 10,000-square-foot space in a renovated 19th century Masonic temple in the heart of Montclair’s thriving downtown. Among the containers of waste now shipped to Toronto every week is one marked “Hair.”
As it turns out, human hair can absorb up to 12 times its weight in oil, and can be compressed into sponges for booms that soak up spilled oil quickly and effectively. Metal hair color tubes are made into bicycle frames. Even hair dye is recycled: The water is extracted and used to wash down highway medians; the solid part is incinerated.
Andy Tipton, a stylist at Bangz Salon and Wellness Spa in Montclair, with the bins containing beauty waste that will be recycled through Green Circle Salons in Toronto. (Photo: Julia Martin)
“That sounds scary, but the incineration process produces electricity, and the ash leftover from the solid part of the dye is used to filter methane gas out of landfills, so a hundred percent is usable,” Tipton said.
It took a little while to get the other stylists to break their old habits. One of the challenges was to get them to use only as much color as is needed, starting with one scoop rather than two.
“How long does it take to change a habit? Twenty-three days,” Tipton said. “Now, we are using less. And what we do use, instead of washing it down the drain, where it goes into the water supply, we put it in a separate box.”
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The program is not free: Bangz pays $2,500 monthly for the service. (The price is based on salon size, so smaller shops would pay less). But Tipton says the owners are committed to the salon’s sustainability. They have also switched from a pod coffee maker, which generated “tons” of plastic waste daily, to a bean-to-cup machine and biodegradable cups and wooden stirrers.
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Bangz celebrates 25 years in business this year, and that dovetails with the owners’ desire to make a difference, Tipton said. “They don’t want to continue another 25 years unless we’re doing something socially responsible.”
That mission includes getting other salons to jump on the bandwagon, and Tipton has reached out to several in Montclair.
“This is so much bigger than me and Bangz,” Tipton says. “We want to make every salon in Montclair a Green Circle salon. Everybody should be doing this, right?”
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