GREAT FALLS — At Studio Montage Salon & Spa in Great Falls, there is a seemingly inconspicuous tall, white cardboard box filled with used Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
"Masks, face shields, gloves. All our Clorox wipes,” said Celeste Smith, a manager at the salon, describing the PPE in the box.
But what you won't see when you look inside the box is what it will all eventually become: "It's really exciting,” Smith said.
The salon has partnered with a company called Green Circle Salons and for a small fee, the company collects used PPE and incinerates it.
The ash is used to make construction materials and the incineration process generates clean energy that is used to power homes and businesses.
Smith said recycling makes sense.
"The brand that we love and use and work for is Aveda and a big part of our mission is to care for the world we live in. It really got me thinking about the day-to-day."
"The little acts, I think, add up to big results in the end. We found this company and it really just aligns with our mission," Smith added.
"The PPE process was designed as a way to essentially ensure that we're able to essentially recover all of the waste that salons and spas were generating after reopening,” explained Will Simpson of Green Circle Salons.
He said knowing he's helping the environment is an incredible feeling, "personally for me, I find it so gratifying to know that the work I'm doing is something that's actually solving a lot of our challenges."
Green Circle salons doesn't just take PPE though, and Studio Montage Salon & Spa has actually been recycling with the company since 2018.
"We recycle our foil, used foil, especially with hair color on them. We're able to recycle wax strips, wax sticks, all our plastic shampoo bottles, product bottles," Smith said. "We recycle glass, we also can recycle all our tools that end up breaking.”
"Our commitment to our members, our salons and spas, is that we will help them to recover up to 95 percent of their waste,” said Simpson.
Smith hopes the studio's effort plants the seed for a brighter, greener future. "Hopefully in the future, we can do even more and even just inspire more people to get involved,” said Smith.
While Green Circle Salons primarily works with salons and spas, other companies are eligible.
Simpson said school boards, non-profits such as the Salvation Army and food banks, and for-profit businesses have also partnered with the company.