You reduce and recycle like a fiend. You have a compost bin in your kitchen, and you carry a metal straw in your purse. You obviously take carbon footprint reduction seriously – but does your hair salon?
Most of the hair color, color tubes, foils, papers, plastics containers, glass, and cans your stylist uses ends up getting tossed in the trash – along with the all the hair trimmed from your head that ends up on the floor. Stuffed into plastic trash bags, most of it ends up contributing to the mountains of waste made each year.
The brainchild of life-long friends Kylie Hoben and Denise Sharpe, the salon opened a little over two and a half years ago. Although they had each been in the beauty industry for over 20 years and owned other businesses together, they wanted to create a space for people to not just get great hair styling but a great experience that also enabled the salon to contribute to the area around them in a positive way.
Sweet HairAfter, a full-service salon in Kensington, is doing its part to change that.
“From the start, we wanted to create a different kind of salon – a non-intimidating place,” Hoben says. “We knew that a focus on community would be our path to success.” That focus included giving a percentage of their monthly proceeds to the National Center for Children and Families and donating to other charities each month.
Hoben says that because she and Sharpe have always been environmentally aware, they wanted to be as conscious as they could about bringing that to their salon – especially regarding the products they featured and used on their clientele.
Attending a conference with the company that produces the organic hair color and styling products the salon uses lead the owners to Green Circle Salons – the world’s first company to recover and repurpose waste created by salons and spas.
“We knew it was the right thing for us to do,” Hoben says.
After joining, they were given all the tools they needed to reduce the salon’s waste. Hair clippings (which are often used to make mats used to soak up ocean oil spills), used foils, color-tubes, excess hair color, papers, plastics, glass, aerosol cans, and electronics are all recovered and repurposed to keep it out of landfills and waterways.
Although it isn’t necessary to wash everything, the process of getting the refuse to the company involves a system of labeled cardboard collection bins and containers throughout the salon, which Hoben says took some getting use to.
“All the things you normally can’t recycle have to be separated into clear bags and shipped via UPS,” she says. “In the middle of a busy day, you have to stop and say ‘Where does this go?’ It’s a real change of habit, but like with anything, it got easier with time. It’s actually a huge process and a lot of work, but well worth it.”
Part of the cost of the recycling process is passed onto the clients in the form of a $2 green fee, while the salon pays $2 per client as well.
“They pay half and we pay half,” Hoben says. “[They] seem to like it when they realize that they are doing something green without really trying and I think they appreciate it, like ‘Oh great! I’m doing a good thing by coming here.’”
If Kensington is a bit too far outside of your neck of the woods, Hoben offers a bit of advice for folks looking to reduce their own carbon footprint by going green with their beauty regimen.
“If you’re going to someplace that’s not doing things to help, ask yourself if that is really the best place to spend your money,” she says. “Do your research to find a place that is.”
For more information about Sweet HairAfter and their sustainability practices, log onto.
By Kimberly Hodges and Felicia Hodges.