You’ve probably heard that cow burps and farts are a major factor in climate change. As silly as it may seem, that’s not an urban legend; depending on which study you look at, those methane emissions are responsible for anywhere from 9 percent to more than half of the greenhouse gases that blanket and heat up the planet.There’s not much you can do to stop livestock from passing gas, but you can do your part to address another source of methane emissions: your hair.No, your hair isn’t farting. However, when you get a haircut and the discarded hair is swept into garbage bags, an environmentally unfriendly process begins. The hair essentially mummifies, and when it ends up in a landfill, it contributes to 18 percent of U.S. methane emissions.That’s why a Canadian organization called Green Circle Salons is helping salons across North America make less wasteful choices, even with snipped-off hair.“GCS offers a comprehensive recycling/repurposing program that ensures hair, foils, colour tubes, plastics, papers, and chemicals get diverted out of our waste and water stream,” their website states.For example, discarded hair can be collected and donated to help clean up oil spills. During 2010’s massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, human hair (and pet fur) was gathered into absorbent, reusable mats called “hair booms,” which help remove the oil from the water.
Green Circle’s other efforts, with the help of their partners, include helping salons properly recycle the aluminum foil used for coloring hair—it can be recycled over and over—instead of simply throwing it out, and sending chemical waste like ammonia and perm solutions to facilities that can turn them into clean energy instead of just rinsing them down the drain.There are currently 24 Green Circle Certified salons in the U.S.: one in Atlanta, one in Tucson, two in Voorheesville, New York, and a whopping 20 in the Chicago area. And in Canada, they’re seemingly everywhere.”We decided to start the program because, as a salon, we believe in bettering our community by helping set an eco-friendly standard,” says George Gonzalez, owner of George The Salon in Chicago. “Prior to being introduced to Green Circle, our salon was wasting color tubes, foils, hair, and paper. Now these valuable items are being recycled and enhancing the environment and salon. Our waste bins are strategically placed to make the recycling process as effortless as throwing out the trash. It only takes a few extra steps throughout the day to make sure that the items are recyclable. Customers are aware and 100 percent satisfied with the recent change because their small contribution provides a big impact on the environment.”The organization is constantly looking for more salons that are ready to take a step in a less environmentally hazardous direction, and you can download their My Green Salon app to stay up-to-date on the latest additions to their directory.