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SA hair salons join sustainability push, charge $2 'green fee'

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Hairdressing salons across South Australia have begun charging customers a $2 fee to fund a recycling program, collecting hair to soak up future ocean oil spills and selling foils to feed the homeless.

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About 30 salons have signed up to the Sustainable Salons program since its South Australian launch two months ago.

Stores pay to have “up to 95 per cent” of their waste – including foils, razors, chemicals, plastic containers, paper and hair – collected and recycled for environmentally friendly repurposing or charitable causes.

Ponytails are collected to make wigs for the Variety Children’s Foundation and money from recycling foils is donated towards OzHarvest to feed people experiencing homelessness.

Stores pay Sustainable Salons a weekly membership fee, and customers are charged $2 each (25 per cent of which goes into the store).

“We want to be classed as doing something for the environment,” co-director of city hair salon Blow it’s a Hair Thing, Steve LaBella, told InDaily.

“There’s been a couple that have said ‘I don’t want to pay that’ but in general people have been pretty good about it.

“We want to be showing the world that we care about the environment.”

Sustainable Salons co-founder Ewelina Soroko told InDaily part of the membership fee paid by salons went towards research at the University of Technology Sydney into the effectiveness of hair-filled booms to soak up ocean oil spills.

The program is a for-profit business.

“We’ve got about 30 (South Australian) stores in the program,” said Soroko.

“Every week we get more interest … the community keeps growing.”

Plastic hair salon waste in a Sustainable Salons warehouse. Photo: supplied

She said there were Sustainable Salon member stores in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Byron Bay, Melbourne, and most recently, Adelaide.

“Our drivers go in the salon every two weeks and pick up the recycling,” she said.

“We bail (the foils) up and send it to a recycler … all those proceeds are donated to OzHarvest.”

She said one full head worth or foils contributed to a quarter of a meal for a person experiencing homelessness.

She added that signing up every salon in SA was her “dream” and that hundreds of stores have expressed interest.

“It’s slowly but surely becoming mainstream, which is just fantastic.”

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