BUSINESS BEAT: Environmental changes embraced by Victoria hair salons

Green Circle Salons does waste disposal of all kinds for environmentally minded operators

Stylist Megan Westaff

Stylist Megan Westaff

It’s about 10:30 on a Thursday morning and Carreiro the Studio is still rather quiet, outside of a couple of clients here to get their hair coloured.

The expansive hair salon, tucked like an underground lair beneath a deceivingly small lobby on Broad Street, won’t start going through chemical-based hair products in earnest until at least 11 a.m.

Owner/stylist John Carreiro, who considers himself a green thinker, doesn’t worry these days about colouring products getting rinsed down the drain, or other supplies going into the landfill.

Not since he signed his shop up with Green Circle Salons last month.

The Toronto-based firm, started by organic chemist Shane Price, is gaining a foothold in B.C. with its program of collecting and recycling hair care products and other salon waste.

The company’s once-a-week pickups are working great, Carreiro says.

“The foils used to get rinsed and thrown away,” he says of the rectangular tin foil sheets used in colourings. “Now they get put directly into these bins.”

Within a few steps from each stylist chair are a series of containers. Inside, separated by type of waste, are foils, colour tubes and other detritus leftover from salon appointments. Another bin holds swept-up hair, which is used in booms for oil spills, as well as other products.

Carreiro says his staff had been on him for years to do something about the amount of chemical waste the salon created. He was on board, but until Green Circle came along, the point was moot.

“We really wanted to take that ecological stance, but nobody would pick up our stuff,” Carreiro says.

Given the relatively low market price paid for such waste, it would take many salons’ material to make it worthwhile for a diversion company to bother.

Jennifer Hennessey, a former Vancouver hair stylist who now works full time for Green Circle, has been working long hours to get salons on the Island and Lower Mainland on board.

“I can’t sign them on fast enough,” she says of the demand for the service.

As of last week, the company had 24 clients in Victoria and Nanaimo, plus 68 in Vancouver and 115 in Toronto.

It’s not a free service. The model calls for salons to charge a $1.50 eco-fee per appointment, $1 of which goes to Green Circle, and the rest to the salon to put toward environmental upgrades to their space, such as lighting.

For now, the eco-fee is being eaten by Carreiro. While he fully backs the waste-elimination concept, he’s reluctant to increase his prices before his clients understand more about it.

Either way, he says his staff is really behind the move to green up the salon.

“It’s more than recycling, it’s a culture we have in here.”

Carreiro estimates that about 90 to 95 per cent of his salon’s waste is now diverted or somehow recycled.

On Sunday (Nov. 18) from 6 to 9 p.m. at Carreiro The Studio, 1215 Broad St., Green Circle is hosting an official launch of its Island program, with a focus on hair collection.

Salon owners and the public are invited to drop by and see how it works or visit bc.greencirclesalons.ca for a list of participating local salons.

Real estate firm’s philanthropy noted

Colliers International was honoured at the National Philanthropy Day event in Victoria last week with the Corporate Citizenship Award. In recent years the company and its employees have supported, both financially and through volunteering, the B.C. Cancer Foundation, Junior Achievement and other local organizations.

Home-grown grocers expanding up Island

Vancouver Island-based Country Grocer continues to grow, opening the largest store in its chain last month on Bowen Road in Nanaimo. The 50,000-square-foot store, the company’s second in Nanaimo, hosted its grand opening this week. It was constructed to green standards with eco-friendly features that include bio-swales to control rainwater runoff, rain gardens and a heat reclamation unit that captures waste heat to warm the building.

Trendy Swedish retailer coming to Uptown

Hennes and Mauritz, known to most of the world as H & M, has confirmed it will open a store at Uptown in spring 2013. One of the world’s largest clothing retailers, the company already has 61 stores in Canada.

Wilson’s jumps at busing opportunity

Saanich-based Wilson’s Transportation Ltd. has added 11 highway coaches and six double-decker buses to its fleet, after Gray Line parent Horizon Coach Lines decided to withdraw service from Vancouver Island. The expansion solidifies Wilson’s position as the Island’s largest motor coach company.

Business names in the news

Roger How, a former member of B.C.’s Top 40 under 40 entrepreneurs, has joined marine industry software developer Edoc Systems Group as chief operating officer, after a stint as interim president CEO of Victoria technology company Terapeak … University of Victoria engineering student Jeremy Brooks won a $2,000 CarCareerBC bursary from the New Car Dealers’ Association of B.C … Tina Jubenville has joined the tutoring team at eGurus Technology Tutors, which provides training for seniors and others on hardware and software.

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