When Tanya Evans started thinking about how much waste hairdressing salons generate, coupled with all the day to day rubbish households create, she decided to do her bit to help the planet.
Mrs Evans owns Nirvana Hair Studio in Springwood, which last week became a fully sustainable salon.
Everything the salon uses is recycled, right down to the teabags which are composted, the lunchtime food scraps fed to backyard chickens, and the magazines donated to Springwood Hospital.
Previously, every week the salon and the florist next door would fill a skip bin with rubbish.
Under the new system all waste is meticulously sorted into different bins that are collected fortnightly. There are separate bins for hair, chemicals, paper, and plastics.
“Anything we can do to save this place. Our [Australia’s] thumbprint is just below America,” Mrs Evans said.
Cut hair is used in hair booms to mop up oil spills. Pony tails at least 20cm in length are turned into wigs for cancer patients. The excess chemical waste goes into a chemical recycler to be neutralised into recycled water used in construction and roadworks. Plastics are recycled into outdoor furniture, and foil and razor blades are sold for recycling or their parts upcycled.
All proceeds from repurposing salon materials are donated to the food rescue charity OzHarvest to distribute meals for those in need in Sydney and at multiple locations around the country.
All registered Sustainable Salons charge each client a $2 "green fee" with each hair appointment.
Mrs Evans heard about the Sustainable Salons program when she visited a hair expo in Sydney a year ago.
“I remember looking at them [the Sustainable Salons stall] and got the info and thought that seemed really hard. I remember thinking we were too busy. And the more I thought about it, I needed to do something about it,” Mrs Evans said.
Sustainable Salons was founded by Paul Frasca and Ewelina Soroko. The couple met in Amsterdam, and moved to Australia eight years ago.
Mr Frasca had been raised in Australia, but Ms Soroko noticed the grim difference to European countries where money and investment was being put into infrastructure to collect as much as possible and reprocess locally. And so three years ago they set about creating the Sustainable Salons program, which has recently been adopted in New Zealand as well.
Mrs Evans said her hairdressing salon was the first in the Blue Mountains to get onboard the program and hoped others would do so too, and that residents would think more carefully about what they throw out at home.