Hair salon goes green

Natalia Petcu
Natalia Petcu's Zoom Hair Salon is the first in New Westminster to enroll in a program that recycles many of the chemicals, and materialsl used to colour and treat hair.

Natalia Petcu's hair is purple. But her salon is going green.

Petcu's Zoom Hair, on 6th Street, is the first in New Westminster to sign up as a Green Circle salon, an initiative by the beauty industry to reduce and recycle material like packaging, foils and even cut hair as well as divert harmful chemicals from going down the drain or into landfills.

Some of those chemicals, used to straighten, curl or colour hair, are a witches' brew of toxins like ammonia, phenylenediamine, sodium hydroxide, hydrogen peroxide and even formaldehyde. They can cause allergic reactions, lung inflammation and increase the risk for cancers like breast and leukemia.

Petcu says while many manufacturers are now offering natural, less harmful products, they're often more expensive and less reliable and durable.

Since signing on with the Green Circle program, Petcu dumps used dyes and chemicals in a plastic bucket for collection, rather then flushing them down the drain. She's also more careful measuring so there's not as much waste.

"I thought I was being really good with measuring," says Petcu. "But now that I have the bucket, I see how careful I have to be."

Petcu's dedicated a portion of a storage closet as her salon's recycling centre with baskets for plastic bottles and tubes, cardboard and paper packaging, and the foils used in the colouring process. There's also a large plastic bin filled with cut hair that will be recycled into mats used to soak up oil spills.

"You have to be organized not to be so wasteful," says Petcu.

When she first opened her salon last year, Petcu says she filled a big garbage bag every two weeks. Now she only puts out the trash once a month.

Petcu says more and more of her customers, many of whom followed her from the salon where she worked in Vancouver's Yaletown before striking out on her own, are becoming increasingly aware of the products being put into their hair and their health and environmental effects. Word about a salon with good environmental practices spreads quickly through social media.

And that environmental consciousness isn't limited to what goes on her customers' heads. Petcu asks the two stylists she works with not to bring food takeout packaging into the shop, and she does most of the cleaning of countertops, sinks and furniture with vinegar and baking soda.

"We try to keep it simple," says Petcu.

Zoom Hair is at 37 6th St.


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