Hair salons produce a huge amount of waste every year, but now some Metro Vancouver salons are going green as part of a unique recycling program.

Certified Green Circle Salons are now recycling and repurposing things like shampoo bottles, colour tubes and foil wraps. Their goal is to make the entire salon industry sustainable by 2020.

The Brush Salon in Gastown is one of the businesses taking part and is now sorting and recycling its waste.

One of the program’s more unique aspects is how it goes about re-using all of the cut hair from clients. The hair is sent to a Burnaby warehouse and is made into hair booms which can be used to mop up oil spills.

Hair, it turns out, attracts oil and repels water better than almost any other substance. Some of the hair booms made by Green Circle Salons were used to soak up the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Three thousand hair booms are stuffed and on standby in the Burnaby warehouse in the event of a local spill. The booms are being made by female inmates in Maple Ridge and they’re free to anyone who wants them. 

"They can be used by professionals; they can be used by citizens who have oil lapping up onto their shores," said Will Simpson of Green Circle Salons.

So who pays for the program? Salon customers are charged a small eco fee that’s tacked onto each bill.

“I don't mind at all. In fact I would pay a little bit more if I needed to," said salon client Ashley Peterson,

The owners of Brush Salon think it's a small price to pay to reduce their carbon footprint, after seeing the mountain of waste generated each week.

“If you add up the fact we have 5,000 salons in Greater Vancouver, they're all doing the same amount of waste, and it's all going into landfills,” said Calvyn Cass, Brush Salon co-owner, “I feel like if everybody got on board we could make a huge difference in the world."   

Right now, just 200 B.C. salons are taking part. The Green Circle Salons program has recycling warehouses in B.C., Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Chicago.