From improving the efficacy of perovskite solar cells to cleaning up oil spills, hair clippings from salons can definitely be put to better use than ending up in a landfill. The Green Salon Collective (GSC) in the UK is well aware of that, which is why it is collecting hair cuttings from salons across the country to mop up oil spills, while also collecting waste hair bleaches and dyes to create energy as part of its broader goal to make the hairdressing industry greener.
Since October last year, about 550 salons across the UK and Ireland have collaborated with GSC in a bid to help support its overall mission of reducing salon waste through recycling and education programs.
“Hair salons are one of the biggest contributors to waste on the high street,” said GSC co-founder Paul Seaward. “We were shocked to see how far behind the UK is with salon sustainability, this was long overdue.”
According to GSC, about 99 percent of hair cuttings from salons end up in landfills, a statistic that has prompted the initiative to start collecting the cuttings to make hair-booms — cotton or nylon tubes filled with hair, which are placed on the shores of beaches to prevent oil spills from spreading. So far, the collective has recycled over 500kg of hair, ten percent of which has been used in cleanup operations.
To further green up the hairdressing sector, GSC is also collecting hair colorings and bleach, which are typically washed down the sink after use and can lead to the contamination of groundwater and soil. The salons that sign up for the initiative — for a one-time fee of £125 —can collect the waste liquids and send them to a facility to be burned to generate electricity for the National Grid.
Additionally, GSC makes it easy for salons to recycle hairdressing foil. Participating salons have sent over 2.2 tonnes of foil for recycling in the three months since the scheme kicked off,
“Every salon should be joining, we have to take responsibility for our own waste. This is just the start of something huge,” said Karine Jackson, a salon owner who joined GSC last year.