EarthTalk: As I understand it, hair salons
are pretty toxic enterprises on many counts. Are there any
efforts underway to green up that industry?
-- Paula Howe, San Francisco, CA
salons have long been criticized for the pollution
they generate. Fortunately, while there doesn't appear
to be an industry-wide, coordinated effort to green
up these operations, eco-friendly salons are popping
up all across the country, leading the charge by taking
matters into their own hands.
© Getty Images
salons have long been criticized for the pollution they
generate. Traditional hair dyes and many shampoos contain
harmful synthetic chemicals that are routinely used on customers’
scalps—and then washed down the drain where they can
accumulate in waterways, soils and even our bloodstreams.
there doesn’t appear to be an industry-wide, coordinated
effort to green up these operations, green-friendly salons
are popping up all across the country, leading the charge
by taking matters into their own hands. A simple Google
search for “green hair salons” followed by your
two-letter state abbreviation may well turn up one or several
within driving distance.
surprisingly, Southern California seems to be ground zero
for the green hair salon movement. For example, Beverly
Hills’ Shades Hair Studio prides itself on its chemical-free
atmosphere. Spurred on by her own health problems related
to working with conventional hair dyes, owner Susan Henry—so-called
“colorist to the stars”—first created
her own line of natural hair colors that contain no harmful
ammonia, and then transformed her Shades salon into a model
for environmentally friendly hair care.
town, Nori’s EcoSalon in Encino is making waves in
the industry for its non-toxic permanent hair color treatments
and 100 percent botanical henna using home-grown formulations.
To boot, Nori’s interior features energy efficient
lighting, recycled denim insulation, low-VOC paints on the
walls and sustainably sourced bamboo on the floors, along
with a number of other green touches to keep indoor air
quality high. And up the coast, San Francisco’s Descend
Salon goes to similar lengths, and then steps it up a notch
by recycling its hair clippings for use in absorbent mats
used in oil spill clean-up efforts.
just for California anymore, eco-friendly hair salons occupy
just about every major North American city, many operating
in the same spirit as Shades, Nori’s and Descend in
making use of non-toxic and/or organic ingredients while
greening indoor surroundings for an overall healthy experience.
Then there’s the granddaddy of them all, Aveda, which
in addition to operating some 200 of its own spas, supplies
natural hair care and personal care products to 7,000 professional
hair salons and spas in 29 countries.
way to get a greener hair treatment is to search on the
websites of green hair care product makers such as EcoColors,
Aveda, Modern Organic Products or Innersense for salons
that use their products.
course, if none of the salons in your area have gone green,
take it upon yourself to encourage them to make the transition.
You can start by showing them this article and suggesting
they begin to carry some all-natural products, perhaps by
first contacting companies like EcoColors, Aveda, Modern
Organic Products or Innersense to see what’s out there
that they could easily transtion to.
EarthTalk: Not long ago there were concerns
about honey bees disappearing. Are the bees still disappearing,
and if so do we know why and do we have a solution?
-- David, Grand Rapids, MI
a single cause of Colony Collapse Disorder seems unlikely,
but the U.S. Department of Agriculture‚s Agricultural
Research Service points to the possibility of a "perfect
storm" of stresses that compromise the immune
system of bees, disrupt their social system and make
colonies more susceptible to disease.
© Rainer Hungershausen, courtesy Flickr
The topic of
disappearing honey bees first cropped up in 2004 and by
the spring of 2007 was all over the news. Thousands of commercial
beekeepers across the U.S. and beyond were reporting in
some cases that as many as two-thirds of their honey bees
were flying away from their hives, never to return. What
made the problem—dubbed “Colony Collapse Disorder”
(CCD)—so unusual is that most traumas to bee colonies
leaves bees dead in or around their hives, not mysteriously
there was no concrete evidence pointing to disease or predation
or of mites that tend to attack bee hives. Some beekeepers
reported that moths, animals and other bees were steering
clear of the newly empty nests, leading to speculation that
chemical contamination due to widespread use of pesticides
might be to blame. But no smoking gun emerged and the mystery
the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural
Research Service (ARS), which last year convened a multi-agency
steering committee to assess the problem and find solutions,
several factors could be combining to cause CCD. “Pesticides
may be having unexpected negative effects on honey bees,”
reports ARS, adding that as yet unknown parasites, pathogens
or viruses could also be wreaking havoc on bee colonies.
Studies have also indicated that poor management of populations
of commercial honey bees—including inadequate diet
and long distance transportation—may play a role.
In one study,
researchers from Columbia University isolated the presence
of a virus—the so-called Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus—in
upwards of 96 percent of the hives studied that were affected
by CCD. Other studies point to widespread use of Imidacloprid,
a common grub-control chemical used on lawns and farms and
which has already been banned in France due to its alleged
effect on bees. But finding a single cause of CCD seems
unlikely, and ARS researchers point to the possibility of
“a perfect storm of existing stresses” weakening
colonies to the point of collapse: “Stress…compromises
the immune system of bees…and may disrupt their social
system, making colonies more susceptible to disease.”
cause, CCD remains a real threat to agriculture. About a
third of all American farm production is dependent upon
the pollination efforts of commercially-raised honey bees.
While diversifying the stock of insect pollinators beyond
just one species of honey bee would certainly represent
a step in the right direction, re-jiggering the nation’s
agricultural system represents no small challenge.
perhaps, organic beekeepers have not experienced CCD, leading
to speculation that overall greener management practices
could be the answer even if direct causes are not determined.
Meanwhile, efforts to genetically modify bees that are resistant
to predators and pathogens could also prove fruitful, although
such high tech solutions are still untested and could open
up other cans of worms.
Agricultural Research Service; CCD
Steering Committee Q&A.
SYNDICATED COLUMN ONLY ON AMERICAJR.COM