Climate change can feel like a problem that is too big to be solved by everyday folks. But that’s not how Richard Desilets looks at it. The veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces prefers to think with solutions first. “You don’t have to save the world, save your corner of it,” he says.
This kind of thinking is what inspired him to create Style Recycling, an Okotoks-area recycling company that serves hair salons in Calgary and Southern Alberta. Desilets and his wife Nancy personally visit the salons to collect the recyclables, including hair clippings, and won’t take on a client that they can’t personally drive to. The pair recycles around 80 to 90 per cent of the waste created in salons and aims to also educate salon owner about reducing their waste within their own facilities.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the Desilets’ work is how they repurpose hair clippings by weaving them into hair mats for the garden industry. Style Recycling’s new initiative involves using a modified felting machine with extra needles that compacts the hair into 12-by-24-inch mats. The mats can be used as garden fertilizer and mulch.
Gardeners can place segments of the mats into the dirt and then plant their greenery on top, or lay mat segments around an already-growing plant for protection. The hair smothers weeds, helps retain moisture, promotes growth and naturally fertilizes the garden. The entire mat is made out of hair and it biodegrades completely in three to four months if buried or a year if placed on the ground’s surface.
The Desilets says that using hair in gardening and growing is an “old world” practice many have forgotten, and they are happy to repurpose something that for years was just thrown away. The mats will be available for purchase this gardening season, check stylerecycling.ca for more information on that or how you can become a salon partner.