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Salon Gives Oil Spill Cleanups a Cutting Edge

Hair clippings get a new life recycled into mats to help the environment

Krista Zanderson used the Fourth of July weekend to exercise her independence by turning waste from her Mesa business into a good deed for the environment.

Zanderson, a longtime hair stylist and owner of Salon Jia Rae, 1822 Cliff Drive, held a cut-a-thon Sunday to benefit Surfrider Foundation and another national nonprofit organization, Matter of Trust. The dollars raised from the day’s reduced-price haircuts ($25, discounted from $60) went to Surfrider, and the hair clippings were to be mailed to Matter of Trust.

Matter of Trust converts the pieces into hair mats, which are then used to clean up oil spills. During 2008, more than 2,600 oil spills occurred around the world, according to literature provided by the San Francisco-based organization.

At 12:30 p.m. Sunday, the colorful shop was bustling with activity. While only 20 people made appointments for haircuts, many more people came as walk-ins, said Alicia Carlson, Zanderson’s friend and publicist for the event.

“We’re hoping to make at least $2,000 today,” Carlson said.

Santa Barbara resident Kara Ohlinger sat in a stylists’ chair near the front of the salon, with Jia Rae’s Brianna Kenney cutting her hair into a sleek new bob. Ohlinger, whose hair had been shoulder length, said she was more than happy to donate about six inches of her locks and $25 for the cut. “I believe in ocean conservation and being green, and this seemed like a good cause,” she said.

“It just breaks my heart to see the animals covered in oil, so I’m definitely a supporter of it,” added customer Elizabeth Kapp.

Zanderson, a stylist for 14 years who also works on TIGI’s line of hair products, opened Salon Jia Rae in March 2008, and has made it her business to run a green business.

“We like giving back to the community,” she said. “I feel like when you give, you get back.”

The salon discounted stylists' haircuts to $25 Sunday in the benefit cut-a-thon for Surfrider and Matter of Trust.
The salon discounted stylists’ haircuts to $25 Sunday in the benefit cut-a-thon for Surfrider and Matter of Trust. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk photo)

Earlier this year, the salon helped raise $2,000 for CALM (Child Abuse Listening & Mediation).

Zanderson will continue to package up her shop’s hair clippings and mail the hair to Matter of Trust on a regular basis, said Carlson, adding that it’s as simple as sweeping up the clippings into a bag.

The 300,000-plus hair salons in the United States each discard an average of one pound of hair per day, according to Matter of Trust. The group’s staff will sort through the boxes of clipped hair to check for garbage, and then sends the clippings to factories that make the hair mats. Loose hair is bundled into nylon stockings that are doubled up and tied together to make the “booms” that surround, contain and soak up spilled oils. The mats are also used to care for birds and mammals that are covered with oil after spills.

While Zanderson and her staff of three stylists devote their attention to the environment, their work space continues to make less of a footprint with eco-conscious hair products such as TIGI’s Love, Peace and the Planet lines, a tank-less water heater, use of water-based paint, natural lights, an outdoor patio and open ventilation.

“I think the salon itself is a model for other salons in terms of their environmental stewardship, and we’re happy to promote their business,” said Surfrider Foundation event director Scott Bull.

In addition to the Jia Rae stylists, four others — three from Paul Mitchell’s Hair Design School, 525 Anacapa St., and one from Zen Studio, 32 E. Micheltorena St., Suite 4 — donated their time to cut hair Sunday. “I love cutting hair and if I can put that together with a good cause it’s always a good thing,” said Maya Robledo from Zen Studio.

To add to the festive atmosphere, local singer Kristy Hepp and two fellow musicians donated their time, and Country Catering Co. provided barbecued food, Carlson said.

Noozhawk staff writer Laurie Jervis can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Noozhawk intern .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) contributed to this report.

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