Don’t even think of throwing out a soft drink can or  some sheared-off hair at Salon 9. If you do, Berna McLeod and Jenni Noyes will give you a gentle but firm lecture about recycling and saving the environment.

Don’t even think of throwing out a soft drink can or  some sheared-off hair at Salon 9. If you do, Berna McLeod and Jenni Noyes will give you a gentle but firm lecture about recycling and saving the environment.

“They keep us going on that,” said Brian Hendrickson, who owns the Pittsburg salon with his wife, Kelli.

The couple’s two children even get into the act by bringing in their old crayons to be recycled.

“The program is Crazy Crayons, and the old crayons are recycled into Crayon Sticks,” McLeod said. “It’s amazing how many things can be recycled. It just takes a little bit of effort.”

For example, cut-off hair was previously just swept off the floor and thrown away. However, it is now collected and sent to Matter of Trust, which takes hair clippings and makes mats to soak up oil spills in the ocean.

“There are around 2,600 oil spills a year, and hair is the best thing to absorb oil there is,” McLeod said.

She explained that the idea was originated by Phil McCrory, an Alabama hair stylist, as he watched TV coverage of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. “He saw how hair attracted oil when he noticed the Alaskan otters whose fur was soaked with oil,” she said.

“All kinds of hair can be used,” Noyes said. “It doesn’t matter how long it is or if it has been bleached. Hair extensions are accepted, too.”

“Little girls have been very upset when they wanted to donate their hair to Locks of Love and it wasn’t long enough,” McLeod added. “Now they know that their hair can help, too. Even pet groomers can send in the fur that they trim off animals.”

Hendrickson estimated that his employees trim around three to five pounds of hair from salon patrons each week.

“We ship it to Matter of Trust in cardboard boxes which we save and recycle,” Noyes said.

“We sell aluminum cans to pay for the postage it takes to send them,” McLeod said. “The last box we sent cost $14.”

They recycle many other things at the salon as well. “Even hair spray cans can be recycled, but you do have to punch a hole in them first,” McLeod said. “If something can’t be recycled, we try to re-use it. The tubs our powered bleach comes in cannot be recycled, but I clean them out good, take them home and my husband stores nuts and bolts in them.”

All of this recycling means that there’s a lot less trash to be thrown away. “We had been taking out trash two or three times a day,” McLeod said. “Now we only have to take it out about once every three days.”

“And if we do find something that could be recycled in the trash, then we find out who put it there and we have a talk with them,” Noyes said.