Green Circle salons recycle hair to clean oil spills

KING 5's Alison Morrow reports.

SEATTLE -- Sensa Salon in downtown Seattle specializes in beauty, but they also know, that one man or woman's treasure is another's pile of aluminum trash.

On a Friday morning, owner Alicia Carlile added blond highlights to a client's hair using several squares of foil.

"On average, we could use 50," Carlile said. "We go through about 20 tubes of color a day."

In one year, one client's cut and color means a pile of gloves and plastic hair coverings, four tubes of color, about 600 foil squares and a pile of hair.

"This is an estimate on an average, but it could actually be far more than this," explained Carlile's husband Shawn.

Salons are major polluters. In one day, North American salons send a half million pounds of waste to landfills.

It's why Sensa decided to try a new style.

They got Green Circle Salon certified, and reduced their waste by 98%. Sensa ships their waste to Green Circle, which takes care of the rest.

Leftover color is treated and the water's reused. Aluminum foils are recycled, sometimes used in asphalt. The plastic waste is also recycled. Cut hair goes with it.

"What most people don't know is hair is fully recyclable. As the hair comes off, we throw it away. That's the old way," said Shawn. "Now this can be placed into hair booms and used to absorb oil."

The hair booms can be used multiple times to clean oil spills, unlike many synthetic booms which only work once.

There are only six Green Circle certified salons in Washington. Four of them are in Seattle.

"I was also surprised not everybody was doing it," Shawn said. "We have to start somewhere and say, 'This can't happen anymore.'"

The cost to customers is a $1 eco-fee.

"You can come in and know when you leave, you're leaving virtually no footprint," Shawn said.


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