By JAMES BELL
On the outside, one of Hays' newest businesses may seem like an average salon.
"It's pretty standard; we do all of the regular services," said Emerald Image co-owner Amber Lane Isley.
But behind the scenes, Isley and business partner Maddie Tanger are dedicated to sustainability, becoming the first Green Certified Salon in western Kansas.
"We just do it with the initiative of trying to be better for the environment and be more aware of the waste we are putting out there," Isley said. "We recycle and repurpose everything we can."
The certification comes from Green Circle Salons - the same group that collects the bulk of the used materials to be recycled from the salon.
When needed, Isley said she also uses the local recycling center.
Even leftover hair is handled in an environmentally friendly way; composting.
"Composting hair is just like composting anything else," Isley said. "It's just a better way of breaking it down, so it doesn't create harmful gases to go into the atmosphere, which is what usually happens we you just send things to landfills.
"The salon industry creates a lot of waste," Isley said.
While Isley said they are the only green-certified salon in western Kansas, she hopes more will come along.
A salon's commitment to being eco-friendly does not impact the customer experience, and the products used are the same, only the waste gets treated differently, she said.
"We even recycle the unused colors," Isley said. "If we overmake color, we can recycle that as well, and it gets reused for petroleum."
Tanger estimates 95 percent of waste created by Emerald Image is being recycled.
"Even single-use items," she said. "So if we wax somebody's eyebrows, that wax and the strips and everything like that is recycled too."
In the future, Isley said she hopes the salon may also do even more by offering green beauty products, like a bulk shampoo dispenser, saving countless plastic bottles from being used once and discarded.
Outside of their green efforts, the salon also is a Wigs for Kids affiliate, helping those in need with wig fitting and styling.
"We do a lot of hair donations, too," Isley said. "I'm always pushing for hair donations."
While the salon is new, both partners are industry veterans and have worked together for years.
While working together, they frequently spoke of opening their own location. When the facility that was previously home to Classic Hair Care, 335 E. 8th St., became open, they jumped at the opportunity.
So far, they said business has been generally steady, but they are accepting new clients and are identifying times for specials.
They also are looking forward to putting in a tanning bed in the location at some point in the future. And have identified another person who may offer late-day haircuts in the location and are looking for items from local vendors that could be sold in the salon.