Photo: Studio 401 at Cooper Creek Square is the first Green Circle Salon in Grand County     Photo by Jay Stewart

Several weeks ago, Winter Park’s Studio 401 joined the growing movement toward environmental sustainability by becoming a Green Circle Salon. In doing so, the salon now repurposes and recycles over 95% of all waste generated in the shop. Materials such as hair, leftover hair color, foils, color tubes, aerosol cans, paper and plastics are now collected and sent to a Green Circle warehouse, where the products are separated and processed.

Every day, the North American salon industry generates 421,206 pounds of waste. Second only to the textile industry in waste production, residual beauty product waste damages the soil, water quality and even the air we breathe. It’s just not good for the environment.

Studio 401 owner Gin Slack talks about becoming a Green Circle Salon.

Owner Gin Slack recognized how damaging the waste can be. Studio 401 carries Kevin.Murphy products – long known as leaders in environmental sustainability. The salon offers most product refills at 20% off retail cost to promote reuse. But even with the salon’s efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle, they continued to send too much waste to the landfill. 

It was the local Kevin.Murphy rep who told Gin about Green Circle Salons. It took a one-time investment of $350 to join North America’s only sustainable solution to recover and repurpose beauty waste. The only other expense is the box they use to send the materials to the collection warehouse, which costs $280 per box. Slack estimates it adds about $150-200 per month to the business’ bottom line, but considers it a worthy investment.

In the two weeks since becoming a Green Circle Salon, they have filled less than two 30 gallon trash bags, primarily with food waste. In a bustling beauty salon, that is beyond remarkable. 

You can see the difference when you enter the shop. Gone are the multiple trash containers at each stylist’s station. Instead, a single receptacle with three slots allows for separation of most materials. No rinsing of products is required, keeping chemicals from going down the drain.   

“We are making people beautiful while we make our small contribution to make the earth beautiful as well,” said Slack.

Green Circle Salons were started in 2009 by founder, Shane Price, in Canada. The business has since expanded to the US and reports over 1 million pounds of waste is diverted from landfills annually through participating salons.

The new 3-part receptacle allows stylists to separate waste to be sent to the collection warehouse for processing.

Once collected and separated, residual hair and beard trimmings are used to make ‘hair booms’, which aid in oil spill clean-up projects, and are also used to make pet beds for disaster relief. Materials such as blow dryers (yes, they take electronics as well), batteries and light bulbs are taken to a chemical waste facility and used to make energy. Plastics and paper products are recycled or incinerated.

In Colorado, there are a handful of participating salons located mostly on the front range. Slack hopes that will change and fellow salons will join the Green Circle Salon movement. “As a salon owner, you’re trying to be as green as you can,” she said. “This sets us apart and makes us stand out.”

By becoming a Green Circle Salon and sustainably managing waste, Studio 401 has become an active force for positive green change. “Protecting the air, water and soil is something we should all be focused on. My hope is that, by this time next year, the Winter Park community is leading the effort,” says Slack.

Studio 401 is a full-service salon located at Cooper Creek Square in downtown Winter Park. To see the community’s first Green Circle Salon in action, make an appointment at (970) 281-7886.