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This Montreal Hair Salon Helps Turn Hair Clippings Into Tools That Clean Up Oil Spills

It repurposes its waste into bikes, bricks, fuel & more so clients can look pretty while going green.

A Montreal Hair Salon Helps Turn Your Hair Clippings Into Tools That Clean Up Oil Spills

While getting a fresh haircut over the holidays, you may look around and notice hair clippings tumbling to the ground, personal protective equipment (PPE) tossed in the trash and bleach-covered tin foil piled high. But a Montreal hair salon is helping to recycle this waste so that it doesn't, well, go to waste — and, yes, that even includes hair clippings.

Revolution Hair Studio in Saint-Henri is a member of the Green Circle Salons program, which supports North American hair salons in reducing their carbon footprints. This includes turning excess hair colour into fuel, metal into bicycles and single-use items into asphalt. According to Green Circle Salons, the beauty industry creates "877 pounds of waste per minute," but its mission is to change that — which means you could wow everyone at a new year's bash and keep the planet clean at the same time.

Why did you join Green Circle Salons?

Revolution Hair's owner, Tamara Rifai, said she was inspired to become more eco-friendly after using Kevin Murphy hair products, which emphasize environmental responsibility with recyclable and biodegradable packaging as well as ingredients from sustainable sources.

Her salon joined Green Circle Salons in 2016.

"It's about the future," Rifai said. "And little efforts go a long way."

Alyana Salcedo, the salon manager, added that, by going green, the team hopes to be "positive role models" for their community, "spread[ing] love, peace, happiness, and sustainability" in everything they do.

"It’s about doing what we can for the planet and making sure that others learn through our example. Everyone wants to be beautiful, but that doesn't mean you have to hurt the planet," Salcedo said.

"We're not perfect, but it's not about that. In fact, striving only for perfection is an easy way to fail. But we're trying, and it has led us to attract many like-minded people who feel the same way as we do about the environment."

How does it work?

Rifai said the process of repurposing beauty waste is easy and convenient. She explained that each salon that signs up with Green Circle Salons gets as many free bins as it needs to store waste.

Currently, Revolution Hair has four bins in its shop: one for excess colour, one for aluminum foils, one for hair clippings and, since the pandemic started, an additional one for masks.

Once the bins get filled up, Revolution Hair calls Green Circle Salons, which sends a UPS driver to pick them up and transport them to a recycling plant.

Green Circle Salon's website outlines the ways different products are given second lives. For instance, excess hair colour is turned into clean energy or separated into water and oil with water being returned into the water system and oil being blended into fuel.

Foils, metal colour tubes and aerosol containers are melted down into aluminum sheets or bars and used to make car parts and bicycles.

PPE waste, including masks, wipes and gloves, can be turned into renewable energy and the ash can become filler for construction materials, such as brick and asphalt.

Courtesy of Revolution Hair Studio

Hair clippings can be composted, turned into plastic to make recycling bins and used to research and develop new environmental technologies, like insulation. They can also be used for humanitarian causes.

In the past, the website says hair clippings were donated to clean up the 2011 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Hair clippings, which are highly absorbent, can be stuffed into nylons and mesh and used as "booms" to soak up oil spills.

Green Circle Salon hair clippings also go into the making of blankets and pillows in refuge camps, Rifai said.

Revolution isn't the only Montreal hair salon that's part of the Green Circle Salons program. There's a directory of Montreal-based Green Circle Salons, including Old Montreal's Pinklablonde Club and Les Garçons Coiffeurs in the Plateau.

Still, Rifai said there are plenty of salons that don't know about Green Circle Salons. She said she hopes other businesses will catch on soon and put their waste to better use.

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