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STCC Cosmetology Program Aims to Trim Waste

SPRINGFIELD — As part of a sustainability push at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), the cosmetology program has connected with Canada-based Green Circle Salons to launch an initiative that could result in the recycling of up to 95% of salon waste.

STCC is only one of two colleges in the country participating in the program, said Amy Goei, the national senior director for Green Circle. She visited STCC on Oct. 24 to introduce the program to faculty, staff, and 35 cosmetology students.

Under the program, hair clippings from the salon at STCC one day would be turned into ‘hair booms’ to clean up oil spills. Hair booms are created by stuffing clippings into nylon hosiery.

“Green Circle Salons donates the hair booms to anybody in North America dealing with an oil spill,” said Tara Lavertue, a clinical instructor in the cosmetology program who organized the effort at STCC. “Hair is effective at removing oil from water because it is so porous. Our students are now collecting clippings to make hair booms.”

Hair, a remarkably strong substance, can be used for other purposes, such as creating bioplastics. Green Circle Salons, which started in 2009, touts its effort as the only comprehensive recycling initiative for the salon industry. According to its website, the company pioneers sustainable solutions for repurposing, recycling, and capturing 95% of salon and spa waste.

“We are so pleased to become one of the first colleges in the country to be part of the Green Circle Salons program,” said Christopher Scott, dean of the school of Health and Patient Simulation. “Joining this initiative allows STCC to reduce the amount of waste produced by the cosmetology program and the direct environmental impact caused by it. I cannot thank our forward-thinking cosmetology faculty enough for inspiring us to join this wonderful program.”

Added STCC President John Cook, “we are so fortunate at STCC to have faculty that ensure we are out front with industry innovation. We know sustainability is important, and I am thrilled for the uniqueness of this program.”

Maureen Socha, assistant vice president of administration and facilities at STCC, said the initiative helps to advance campus-wide goals to increase green and sustainable practices.

“Incorporating the use of the Green Circle Salons initiative introduces the importance of sustainable options to our students,” Socha said. “It is an easy, affordable, practical program to add to our portfolio of green initiatives and programs on campus.”

It’s not only hair that will be recycled. Hair color, foils, color tubes, paper, plastic, chemicals, and other waste are included in the program. Green Circles reports that it has diverted more than 2.3 million pounds of waste from landfills and waterways.

As part of the recycling program, students will transfer the unused color to a bucket. Lavertue said she will weigh the bucket at the end of the semester to show students how much product gets wasted. She will then send it to Green Circle for recycling. Green Circle will extract the chemicals from the color, which leaves a water byproduct that can be safely reintroduced into the waterways.

The salon at STCC has separate boxes labeled for metals, hair clippings, and plastic. Once they are full, the boxes will be delivered to an Illinois warehouse for repurposing.

“What we really like about this effort is that it will teach our students about waste and how it can affect the environment,” Lavertue said. “They will take these ideas with them when they go to work at salons.”

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