Green Circle Salon Program

“Going green at the salon” used to be words that my Mum would roll her eyes at: because it meant that I was dying my hair another weird colour. But that isn’t what it means anymore!

The Green movement is picking up in Thunder Bay and the trend is becoming a business savy way in one of the most waste producing business: Hair Salons.

Some salons are just small with a few people working in them, and some are large with 8+ members.  Just taking a look at over a regular week in a salon you can see from  20-60 clients per week: per stylist! That is a lot of hair alone, not to mention all the product that goes into the hair and the leftovers, the foils (which can average about 50 per person), plus the cups, other lunches and things clients and staff bring in and throw out. It can result into 13 large bags of garbage or more a week!
A new program, called the Green Circle Salon Certification program, helps salons collect recycling that is normal for anyone and salon specific items that can now be recycled. These items include hair, foils, paper, plastic and even the extra products such as dye, lightener, etc. I spoke with Amanda Benincasa of Evoke Salon and Spa (one of the first salons in Thunder Bay to become Green Circle certified) about how it has impacted her business.
 On a trip to Winnipeg she went to a Green Circle presentation and was blown away. “I watched the demonstration of a synthetic buoy vs one made of the excess hair to help with oil spills in the ocean, lakes and rivers and it was amazing. The human hair buoy soaked up the oil in the water in half the time!”  Her salon Evoke was already an established green salon with using green and eco-friendly products such as Hempz and Davine’s hair products.  One of the things that I personally found great about this program was that they take all the plastics, unlike in Thunder Bay where you can only recycle bottles of #1 and #2 plastic that have twist off caps. “We used to throw out so much garbage, knowing how much already goes into our landfill, I thought I could do something to lessen our impact and it has! We only create 2-3 bags of garbage a week now.” told Amanda.
The Green Circle program is very easy for any salon to sign up for, they give you the boxes for disposal, then you pack it up let them know and they will send you a shipping label and arrange pick up for you. The salon has a small fee added to all services to support the program. It is the same as the Environmental Handling Fees (EHF) that are charged on the sale and distribution of all new electronic products regulated in Ontario. Paid at the time of purchase, the fee reflects the actual program cost to collect, transport and responsibly recycle each electronic category the end of its useful life.
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As a esthetician myself, I was wondering about what the Green Circle program could do for the esthetics side. Amanda told me “Currently they don’t have a program in place for items such as wax sticks and strips, acetone, nail files and more. But the estheitican at any salon and spa can still use the rest of the recycling for their plastics and cardboards.” I spoke with Evoke’s esthetician Rebecca Nelson about what future projects she could see for esthetics and Green Circle. “They could figure out how to deal with the wax itself, what to do with nail files. Maybe some sort of filter that could go in our drains to catch debris and some of the product? There are lots of possibilities.” Past paper, cardboard, plastic and the few glass containers we have, the only other recyclable items we have is using the sharps disposable that we can take to any pharmacy. 
 
“A Clean, Green & Beautiful Thunder Bay depends on the pride of residents, businesses, property owners and youth. It also makes good business sense and results in a healthy economy. Clean, green & beautiful cities attract visitors, highly skilled workers and investment, and enable us to live, work and play in well maintained, safe and pleasant surroundings.” – Mayor Hobbs from the Clean, Green & Beautiful Committee of Thunder Bay.
There are many different city, provincial and federal incentives for businesses to become greener, as David Suzuki always promotes ” You can just do 1 green thing to help.” Many of us do way more without even realizing it:
  • we do our weekly recycling, even if its just our empties because we can get money back
  • we use energy efficient appliances
  • when buying a new phone, laptop, tablet, etc we pay the electronic recylicng fee
  • we turn down our heat or air conditioning
  • use the hydro off and peak times chart to do our laundry + using only cold water
  • some of us compost for our gardens
  • use LED light bulbs (which you can get great coupons for online now as a incentive program)
  • walk, roll, bike to work or school /  using public transport
  • bring your own bags or ask for paper bags instead at the store
Thunder Bay has hope, I know there are many of you who were brought up “if you recycle paper, you are putting your family out of work.” because of the mill but only 10 out of 49 paper mills in Canada deal with recycled paper pulp (“Benchmarking Energy use in Canadian Pulp and Paper Mills” Natural Resources Canada 2015)  That is still a lot of jobs. We have to come to the realization that Thunder Bay is still behind. In many cities in Canada, once you get into a home you get a garbage can and a recycle can. In many cities they take more then 2 kinds of specific plastics. In many cities you can take in your recycling and get paid for it! Here you can take your metals to the scrap and the liquor and beer bottles to the beer store… but no paper, cardboard or plastic.
We can do more, follow the footsteps of my friend Elizabeth deBakker. “In May 1996, Elizabeth DeBakker, a 10 year-old student at École Gron Morgon School, addressed Thunder Bay’s City Council expressing her concern over debris found in city parks. As a result of this deputation City Council passed a resolution requesting the development of a municipal clean up program. A steering committee was established to develop an action plan to accomplish the goals of Ms. DeBakker.” – Ecosuperior.  If a 10 year old girl 20 years ago had this big of a impact, what can you do? 
I think all the Green Circle Salons in town have a great start to something very big.
 
 
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