Shampooing the environment: Using hair to clean up oil

Stylist Darryl Reynolds brushes discarded hair that will be placed in a bin and shipped to Canada to repurpose into a tool to clean up oil spills. (Photo by David Caltabiano/Cronkite News)

Stylist Darryl Reynolds sweeps up discarded hair to place in a bin that will be sent to a Canadian environmental company once it’s filled. (Photo by David Caltabiano/Cronkite News)

Customer David Soto gets a trim at Ellsworth Street Social Club. His discarded hair will eventually be used to help the environment. (Photo by David Caltabiano/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – One Phoenix hair stylist is using his customers’ discarded hair to help the environment.

Ellsworth Street Social Club, led by stylist Darryl Reynolds, stores his clients’ hair and sends packs to a Canadian-based company that will help process the hair into tools to clean up oil spills.

“Coming into the industry and understanding how much waste that we make, as a stylist, we really wanted to do something that would allow us to reduce our eco imprint,” Reynolds said. So he decided to take the hair shop green.

“Green Circle Salons came along and they had the idea of re-purposing hair into booms to clean up oil spills,” Reynolds said.

Green Circle has collaborated with other salons across North America to collect discarded hair as possible, according to its website.

“We are a new company with a mission to make the North American salon industry sustainable by 2020,” according to a mission statement on Green Circle’s website. The company supplies bins for different categories of salon waste, including hair and hair products.

The Ellsworth salon then sends the full bins to Green Circle, which returns them to be filled again at a barber shop or beauty salon.

Client David Soto likes the idea.

“I’m all for it. If there is any way they can help with natural disasters, especially man-made natural disasters, I’m in support of it,” Soto said. “I’m hoping to see more businesses go in this direction.”

Virginia Miller, who majors in sustainability at Arizona State University, said the hair recycling program is a winning combination.

“Honestly, it’s a breath of fresh air,” Miller said. “To know that there is a local shop that I can go to that supports not only their community but reduce their environmental impact is really important to me.”