Arts and Culture

Recycled Runway fashion show promotes sustainability and local talent

When you think of fighting pollution and harmful waste, the images that come to mind are often of oil spills, nuclear meltdowns and bottle-nose dolphins caught in tuna nets. Typically, you don't think of hair salons.

"The salon industry has a great deal of waste," says SustainAbility co-owner Melissa Kraai. "Very few salons are working to become more sustainable. Many items within the industry can be recycled, but it is a matter of taking the time to find the sources that are both ethical and sustainable." So SustainAbility will host Recycled Runway tonight in hopes of bringing attention to the often overlooked pollutants in the world of hair care.

"At SustainAbility, one of our goals is to promote sustainable practices within areas that aren't typically thought of as being 'green' industries. The fashion and hair industry are a good example of this," explains SustainAbility director Rachel Nathan. "By throwing an event that highlights the possible marriage between the recycling world and the salon world, we hope to communicate the message that it is possible for all businesses to become greener."

Recycled Runway will feature Bang Salon, whose owners had approached SustainAbility to learn how they could turn their business green. "In addition to using our services for recyclables, we assisted Bang with finding a local composting company and suggested signing up for wind energy --- which involves a simple call to XCEL and does not cost much more than conventional power," says Kraai.

"We act as a hard-to-recycle center in addition accepting to typical recyclables," Nathan explains. "Items can be defined as hard-to-recycle if they consist of multiple elements that must be separated before recycling. For example, most recycling companies are not able to recycle aluminum foil from salons due to the hair product residue. Because foil represents a large percentage of salon waste and is a precious resource that can and should be reused, we made it a priority to find a local metal recycler who could effectively recycle it."

Unlike many Denver events that import talent from outside the city, SustainAbility recognized that using local artists and organizations wasn't only good for this city's culture but was also ecologically conscious, since it cut down on long-distance transportation. Bringing in second-hand fashion from the newly relocated Buffalo Exchange meant reusing materials instead of importing them from across the globe. And serving vegan pastries created by the local WaterCourse Bakery (the owners have their own farm, Hazel Rah, in nearby Lakewood) cut down on more wasteful travel.

"It is extremely important for us to utilize local talent in everything that we do," says Nathan. "As a company, we aim to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible. This means partnering with local companies when it comes to the breakdown of our recyclables and creating local Denver jobs as well as supporting Colorado talent for events."

Sculpture artist Eric Dallimore will be on hand to present his 24-foot sculpture made from reclaimed wood; he's gained attention with his recycled art before, including pieces made from the wood of New Orleans houses destroyed by Katrina. "It would be hypocritical of me as an artist to make a work of art with a message about sustainability, while using non-sustainable materials," he explains."This is why I challenge myself to create poignant, fine works of art which address some of our most pressing environmental issues using reclaimed, salvaged, and biodegradable materials."

Other artists featured at tonight's Recycled Runway event include Deanne Nixon, S.O.U.L. Foundation and Johanna Mueller; there will also be musical performances by Kyle James Hauser and West African Dance Rhythms by Ed Contreras.

The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Sherman Event Center, 1770 Sherman Street. Tickets are available at Bang Salon or at SustainAbility's website, and proceeds go to supporting SustainAbility's efforts toward making Bang Salon and other local organizations become zero-waste operations.

Follow us on Twitter! Like us on Facebook!