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Running a 'green' beauty salon for eco-friendly clients, beauticians

These are a list of the items that can be recycled into Blue Cart recycling bins.
These are a list of the items that can be recycled into Blue Cart recycling bins.
Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Beauticians have a smorgasbord of recyclables, but how often are salons promoted as "going green"? It's never too late, and for those customers who are environmentally friendly, this may be a smart business decision to bring in additional customers.

Before planning this out, choose a volunteer who would be willing to drop off recyclables in nearby blue cart recycling locations. If the beauty salon is in one of the zones with pick-ups scheduled by the City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation, Waste Management, Inc., or Sims Midwest Metal Management, this makes the recycling process even easier.

Some of the most common products that beauty salons keep in stock that can be recycled include:

Curling irons and flat irons: Contact scrap metal shops to see if these electronics can be reused. Many shops will reuse the material for other steel products in wiring, cars or home construction. There's also a demand in scrap metal shops for aluminum, brass and copper. Alsip, Ill., Chicago and Cicero, Ill., are just a few locations in the Illinois area with scrap metal locations.

Cardboard boxes: For beauty products that are purchased in bulk, cardboard boxes are commonly used to transport the goods. For customers who bring in their own relaxer products, the relaxer kits usually come in cardboard or paper containers, too.

Telephone books: With adjustable chairs, these are not nearly as common as they used to be for adolescent customers. Instead they sit on floors collecting dust while customers use 411 or their Android and iPhone cell phones to look up numbers. Why not get rid of that big stack of paper with outdated numbers collecting dust? Make sure to look up scrap metal shops before getting rid of these books though.

Junk mail: For any business owner, junk mail is the norm not the exception. But instead of throwing all of the pitches for beauty products into the trash, this paper and the envelopes can easily be collected to recycle all at once.

Plastic bottles: In between regular customers -- or when someone is under the blow dryer -- beauticians take short lunches. During slower times, stylists can just sneak away for a half hour or hour. But for those beauticians who eat at their station or in a breakroom, plastic water bottles, juice bottles and vending machine containers riddle the area. A blue recyclable bin next to the garbage can helps both customers and staff easily sort which containers are worth recycling and which ones should end up in the trash. A second one close to an outside vending machine could help encourage customers to participate, too.

Plastic containers: Beauty salons that purchase hair products in recyclable containers are a step in the right direction. However, until hair manufacturers make this the norm instead of a rare commodity, beauticians and beauty salon owners will continue to stock up on bulk shampoo, conditioner, relaxer, hair oil and other material. Rinse out any hazardous chemicals and add containers into a recycle bin. Or, reuse smaller containers in place of bulkier ones, and keep the bulkier ones in a stock room or cabinet. This also clears out more room for other hair supplies.

Magazines and catalogs: The biggest perk of hair magazines is that hairstyles constantly go in and out of style. Beauty salons are one of the most popular businesses that will wear magazines and catalogs out to the very last page. Customers flip through them endlessly to find the perfect hairstyle or customers aim their cell phone hair examples at stylists. Entertainment and business magazines are also commonly found in salons. The latter group of magazines keep customers busy while waiting or while getting their hair done. However, after the publications are out of date and subscriptions start piling up, eventually they end up in the garbage, too. This is when a paper recycle bin comes in handy.

Newspapers: Magazines are more often found in beauty salons, but hair businesses that subscribe to newspapers know by the next day that -- minus the features section -- breaking news is old news by the afternoon. Both newspapers and magazines get heavier the longer they're stocked in the corner. Some companies use newspapers as an easier way to collect hair remnants on the floor. This works but a broom on a tile floor will get the job done just as easily without all of the paper waste.

Automatic hand dryers: Beauticians don't leave hair dryers on when no one's hair is wet so why leave hand dryers on in bathrooms? Ditch the paper towels for motion detector hand dryers.

Hands-free faucets: While motion detector faucets can be a pain in bathrooms and leave people dancing back and forth to get the water to come on, they do stop a lot of water waste. Beauticians already use water nonstop to wash, condition and rinse hair. Try to lower power bills by switching to automatic bathroom hand faucets.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest black hair & hair health entries, or subscribe to her Chicago Black Hair.

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