Studio Montage is also an Aveda salon donating money to help areas that do not have access to clean water. (Photo: Tribune Photo/Enya Spicer)
The hair salon industry in North America throws away 421,000 pounds every day, according to Mark Budihas, a global educator for Green Circle Salons.
That’s around 877 pounds a minute.
“The problem is, it’s all recyclable, but there’s no traditional solution,” Budihas said.
Studio Montage Salon and Spa in Great Falls is now a certified Green Circle Salon.
The waste from the hair industry is not regulated, so the salon has voluntarily decided to regulate their daily waste. Salon waste such as hair, paper, plastic, metal and single-use items cost more to process because they are considered hard to recycle materials.
“They are voluntarily making sure that the material gets properly disposed of as opposed to just throwing it away which is the easiest thing and the cheapest thing,” Budihas said. “… It takes extra steps, it takes extra people, it costs extra money. There’s no way around it.”
Monday is Earth Day.
Celeste Smith, stylist, manager and part facilitator of education in the salon, said she wanted the salon to lead with its best foot forward and be a pioneer in the community.
“We take the trash out every single day and just seeing how much garbage we produce in a week…I mean the dumpsters are overflowing on a weekly basis,” Smith said. “It’s just black bag upon black bag of just waste that’s going to the landfill.”
As Smith was thinking of what the salon could do about the waste problem, she heard about Green Circle salon in Bozeman. She researched the company, submitted their email and after a few months process have now launched the program.
Studio Montage is also an Aveda salon which gives them a goal of raising money every year to help areas get clean water that don’t have access to it. Salon owner, DeeAnna Corn, said it didn’t make sense to her that they were raising several thousand dollars a year for that effort when they weren’t considering their own home first.
“If we’re really going to say ‘this is who we are,’ then we need to be doing something first in our house before we’re helping out globally,” she said. “I feel that we need to walk the walk.”
Green Circle Salons is a provider of recycling services for the salon industry. They work around the whole idea of creating a sustainable beauty industry. The salons ship their items to one of their warehouses and processors near the warehouse then process the materials.
“We always pick the one that’s closest to keep the carbon footprint as low as possible,” Budihas said. “…We are carbon zero at the end of every year and we have been since we started in 2009.”
Hair is an organic material. Organic materials are not able to compost in a landfill because it requires mixing oxygen in with the materials and keeping it in rotation. Because a landfill is layered together and the materials are usually squished in a plastic bag, they end up decomposing and that results in the release of methane gas.
“All that hair that we’ve been throwing away for all these years is just adding more greenhouse gases into the local environment,” Budihas said. “It’s going to stay here for before it spreads out…”
Smith said she knows it’s going to be a quite a challenge, but interesting to create “their own flow” with their new bins and recycling practices.
“I can’t wait, in three months, to see how much waste we’ve diverted,” she said.
Corn said she’s just excited to see where these companies take the products. For example, Green Circle makes plastic out of hair and “hair booms” that collect oil in the oceans. She said she is amazed to be a part of reducing the carbon footprint without making people feel guilty about their current lifestyle.
“This is just such an easy way to give back without it being a controversial issue,” Corn said. “We just want to keep Montana beautiful and we want to do our part and this is a pretty easy way to do it.”
Studio Montage will also be watching how much water and electricity they use as well. The goal is to provide their services while cutting down where they can without interfering with the client or business.
“We believe that salons can be profitable, still take care of their people and be good stewards of the earth without taking away from each other…,” Budihas said.
There are now just over 3,000 Green Circle Salons out of the 250,000 salons across North America. Budihas said it’s not Green Circle doing all of this, it’s the salons.
“Each one of these salons that is voluntarily deciding they’re not going to add to your local landfill, that needs to be applauded and acknowledged because they are taking it on themselves,” Budihas said. “We’re just giving them the plan.”
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