A trip to the salon can leave you feeling like a million bucks. But what does that new hairdo cost the planet?
At Velvet Goldmine Collective in Bend, the usual salon gossip often goes green because they recycle — everything.
Even the hair that ends up on the floor.
“The hair fiber keratin makes a really great material for doing all kinds of interesting things,” said Shane Price. He was the impetus for this robust recycling program.
“There’s environmental sustainability but how do we set salons up for financial stability as well,” Shane said. He founded Green Circle Salons in Toronto in 2009 after seeing the amount of waste generated in a salon.
“Given the city and this industry that is about creating beauty, that fact that all this was going out to curbside, I just got curious about that,” Shane said.
That curiosity created a company focused on repurposing plastics, foils, dye and hair from 4,000 salons across the U.S. and Canada.
“We did ship a lot of hair down to the Gulf,” Shane said.
So, about that hair thing. Locks are repurposed to soak up oil spills like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
“But it’s a really tough industry to break into,” Shane said.
So the company refocused on turning hair into a bio-composite material.
“Together with salons we’re achieving about 95% waste diversion,” Shane said.
Meleni Shimkevich, owner of Velvet Goldmine Collective, has been a stylist for more than two decades. She sees the trends, including a shift to more environmentally friendly business practices.
“We generate about one bag of trash a month,” said Meleni.
She’s not new to the program. Two salons Meleni owned in Portland participated in Green Circle.
Fellow stylist Jodi Nelson is down with the initiative.
“It’s giving back and making sure that we take care of the environment that takes care of us,” Jodi said.
How did Meleni discover it? While interviewing a stylist.
Meleni wanted to know if the interviewee had any questions for her.
“Then she got to the question of ‘What kind of recycling do you currently have in place in the salon?’ And I didn’t want to answer the question because I wasn’t doing anything,” Meleni said.
That non-answer cost Meleni the hire.
“She said no to me,” Meleni said. But it spurred her into action.
“So I went home that night and Googled it and signed up for it that night,” Meleni said.
When she opened her salon on Bend’s westside just over a year ago, she enrolled in Green Circle Salons. Items are sorted, boxed and shipped off.
“We just made a styling comb that comes from recycled plastics from the salons and comes from recycled hair. Creating circularity is where our priorities are,” Shane said.
It’s not just about recycling what’s in the salon. It was also about making the building itself green. Melani’s brother, Shaun, was a successful commercial contractor.
“We designed the salon to be really energy efficient,” said Meleni.
From redirecting HVAC vents to running water lines to getting creative with the ceiling, Shaun’s skills lowered Meleni’s bills.
“My electric bill has never been over $150 even in the winter months,” Meleni said.
And it won her a business eco-leadership award. Meleni had to accept it without Shaun, who passed away.
The salon — a testament to Shaun’s work and Meleni’s commitment to running a sustainable business.
“We’re a certified green salon and we’re carbon neutral certified,” Meleni said.
Meleni hopes other salons will hear this story and get on board with Green Circle.
By the way: The name of the salon — Velvet Goldmine — is from a David Bowie song. Meleni is a big fan of glam rock.