Aroma Borealis

Since 1998, Aroma Borealis has provided locally made natural herbal health and aromatherapy products to Yukoners. Their products are a reflection of the northern boreal forest and the people who live here. They also strive to create products that are kind to the Earth, and this environmental commitment extends into all facets of the business. I sat down with manager Jennifer to discuss Aroma Borealis’ Zero Waste journey.

If you’re on social media, you may have seen a post recently that Aroma Borealis had installed bulk containers for shampoo, conditioner, bubble bath and body wash.

“It was one of our most popular posts,” Jennifer tells me. This isn’t surprising, as the Yukon community clearly wants to be part of the refill revolution. Currently you can bring in any 8 oz (or multiple thereof) container and refill. They even offer glass mason jars with pumps if you prefer not to use plastic bottles!

You aren’t able to buy in bulk by weight yet, but they are working out the logistics with the hope that soon you can bring any container you like to fill up.

When asked about the reaction from the public, Jennifer says it has been “so, so good. People are very excited about the opportunity to bring their own container. The excitement is coming from all ages too, which is nice.”

Providing bulk options doesn’t only save resources and reduce waste, it’s also good for business. Jennifer says that the store saw a spike in sales with the announcement of their bulk section. It’s not just shampoo and conditioner either, you can also get lotion, beeswax and cocoa butter in bulk!


Beyond Bulk

Bulk offerings aren’t the only way Aroma Borealis is trying to reduce their footprint. They offer many package free soaps and bath bombs, and always try to use reusable, plant-friendly and/or recyclable packaging. They are also exploring ways they could potentially use Loop packaging, where consumers buy items in reusable containers and simply return them to the store to be cleaned and recirculated!

The store has two composts, one picked up by the city and a garden compost which the staff bring home to use in their gardens. All the staff members take their lunch waste home. “We’re all responsible for our own waste,” says Jennifer. “For a long time I didn’t even know where the garbage bin was because we create so little actual trash!”

When I asked Jennifer what was challenging about reducing waste she didn’t really have an answer. “If anything the challenge is how to cater to all people’s needs and keep options open,” she says.

“As far as reducing waste goes, it hasn’t been challenging, in fact it’s easy, and you feel good. It’s really exciting and we just want to keep going. We’re always asking ourselves, what else can we do?”


Changing the supply chain

Aroma Borealis is also setting an example of how businesses can influence suppliers in order to reduce wastage. They ask some suppliers to send only clear bottles for some products because they can be reused over and over in store when crafting products instead of having to be recycled.

“The companies have been very receptive,” says Jennifer. This shows that stores don’t have to settle for the status quo, but can be proactive in trying to use more environmentally friendly packaging options. It also shows that local retailers have some say in how they receive products.

If you’re unhappy with the packaging in your local store, speak up about it. Make contact. The more people that do, the more we’ll see local business actively pursuing alternatives through their suppliers, and producers designing for the circular economy.

Learn more about Aroma Borealis at or stop by the store at 504-B Main Street in Whitehorse!




Failing Grade

Guest post written by Lillian Nakamura Maguire, June 12, 2019 For Whitehorse Star


Okay…I’ll fess up…I FAILED!

No…Not school. It was the No or Low Use Plastics Challenge our household took on last July 2018!

But whenever I fail…I try to see it as an opportunity to learn about myself and why I failed. (That’s my parent voice speaking.)

Last winter it started with our adult son coming to help with various household chores and “de-­clutter” as the latest gurus call it. De-­cluttering has become an ongoing family activity with the buildup of stuff while living in our rural property the last 25 years.

Oh boy…Little did we know that the No Plastics Ninja (our son) would strike in our household! As each item got examined, I could see the steam rising…The volcano was about to explode and so it did!

Our son had lived in Victoria, a city a bit further ahead in some environmental practices than us Yukoners.

Maybe it was the salty sea air and being around other people who love the ocean that moved him to open up discussion, arguments, and dialogue about the environment. We weren’t completely ignorant – after all I can’t be a Japanese Canadian without knowing about Suzuki!

We knew about plastic pollution and what it’s doing to the fish, fauna and fowl. But did we realize that the Yukon is facing similar environment waste problems?

So being a retired adult educator, I believe in assessing, gathering information, analyzing and then taking action. (That’s my professional voice speaking.)

We decided and challenged everyone in our household, including all guests, to aim for no single use plastic. I even convinced a group of Whitehorse United Church members to take the No or Low Plastics Challenge with me for a month in the early winter. Ideally we aimed for no new purchases of plastic wrapped goods or plastic products. Our family of 3 adults collected all the plastics we used or purchased from July 1 to December 31, 2018. (Thankfully we went to our friend’s place for Christmas, but they too took on the challenge to follow this guideline. Friends and family are so supportive no matter how quirky the idea. )

Normally I wouldn’t expose my garbage in public, but see the picture taken at the beginning of January 2019. Happy NEW Year! Time for a New Year’s resolution.

Plastics collected between July and December 2018.


Okay…so that was our assessment period. This was a time to look at what was in our garbage and try to figure out what to do differently. We had plastic bottles from our various cleaning supplies, produce and takeout food containers, plastic wrappings from meat and other products and Styrofoam packing. I felt completely overwhelmed, discouraged and embarrassed.

Not to be defeated, I decided we should continue the experiment and see if we could improve and reduce our use of plastics for the next 6 months from January to June 2019.

We avoided purchasing any new plastic products. We also decided that we would reduce our purchasing of new things as much as possible. If we needed something we checked the free store or the thrift store. We always remembered our cloth shopping bags and began using the lightweight net bags for produce/nuts. We took our own containers to fill with nuts, seeds, grains and processed meats. We shopped in places that had bulk bins, checked out the Whitehorse Potluck Food Co-Op for sources of shampoo and other supplies in bulk and bought unpackaged Yukon made soaps. When we did find ourselves buying frozen berries or chocolate covered almonds in those resealable, heavier weight plastic bags, we reused the bags for other food storage.

Plastics collected between January and June of 2019.


When preparing food for community events or meetings, I insisted on preparing vegetables and fruits from scratch and avoided the pre-­prepared, cut up produce in plastic containers. No Styrofoam cups or plates were allowed. Instead of using plastic wrap to cover food temporarily, we used tea towels or for longer storage, beeswax food cover wraps. My friends and I experimented with making them from old cotton pillowcases. Recently I needed some mayonnaise, and decided to make it from scratch in a blender. It’s easy, tasty and cheap and is stored in a glass container avoiding the plastic container.

I admit…There wasn’t all that much improvement with the latest collection of plastic stuff. We did reduce our use of those clear plastic produce containers and now buy greens or other produce unwrapped. We started an early crop of lettuce and arugula under some grow lights in February, which were transplanted and now producing lots of greens in our outdoor raised bed. I continue to look at every purchase with the 7 R’s in mind.

Consider the following diagram:

We’ve had lots of interesting discussions with family, friends, neighbours and strangers. My husband often has to drag me away from conversations with complete strangers in the store, restaurant or at the fruit stand exchanging ideas or offering them one of my cloth bags.

Individually and as a family unit there is much we can do to reduce our use of plastics, especially single use plastics like bags, wrapping, straws, lids, plates, food containers and take-­out Styrofoam trays.

But I think what is truly needed is for all of us to pressure our governments at all levels to develop policies and practices that encourage the 7 R’s outlined above.

We need to pressure manufacturers and marketers of consumer goods to reconsider packaging to eliminate or replace plastics. It’s not easy but let’s tackle this together.

How about joining me in a NO PLASTICS MONTH for July? No excuses…Take the first step and just try! Every bit counts.

-Lillian Nakamura Maguire


Whitehorse Waste Audit highlights organics, wood, and high volumes of plastics

In November of 2017 and July of 2018 the City of Whitehorse conducted a waste composition study to determine the type and source of material entering the landfill.

Over the course of 5 days in summer and winter, ~6500 kg of waste were sorted into 60 categories and weighed to determine the estimated tonnes and types of material entering the landfill from residential, construction and demolition (C&D), and institutional, commercial and industrial (ICI) sectors annually.

The waste audit identified potential for 6500 tonnes of material to be diverted. Diversion potential was based on current programs and policies as well as consultant experience. Last year the diversion rate in Whitehorse was 26%, down from the high of 34% in 2015. Diverting an additional 6500 tonnes would bring the overall diversion rate to 50%. The City of Whitehorse previously adopted a goal of 50% diversion by 2015 and Zero Waste by 2040.




The waste audit concluded that organics, wood waste, paper and metal have the highest potential for diversion. Organics make up a small volume of the material landfilled, but they are heavy and contribute strongly to pollution by creating methane and toxic leachate which can pollute ground water.


Wood Waste


Currently, clean wood is a controlled waste, meaning it must be separated from regular waste, but there are no other diversion strategies for clean wood. Wood waste is heavy and takes up lots of space, and also creates air gaps. Currently some clean wood waste is used in the compost facility, but there is high potential for increased diversion through avenues such as biomass heating.




Wood waste and organics were the largest categories of landfilled waste by weight, but the largest material category by volume is plastic. Soft plastics were the largest portion of the plastic waste stream. This material is light, but takes up lots of landfill space. This landfill space is something we should be valuing very highly, as the costs and footprint of a new landfill are significant.



While plastics make up only 8% of the weight of material, they account for 29% of the volume of landfilled material. The composite category also has a high volume to weight ratio. Composites include most packaging, particularly multi-laminate packaging and plastic pouches. These single-use items are becoming more and more popular, which was evident in samples, particularly from the residential sector. This material is not currently recyclable, so it is either landfilled or shipped out by recyclers to be used as fuel, often in the production of cement.

The large amounts of this material highlight the need for policies to reduce the production of this material at the source. It also highlights the need to incentivize producers to create packaging that is readily recyclable or compostable. Some grocery stores worldwide have begun to tackle this problem, by providing packaging free options and calling on producers to provide products with less packaging.


Product Stewardship is working


Only a small amount of beverage containers were observed in samples. The most frequent type were single-serve yogurt drinks and coffee cream. This speaks to the success of the Beverage Container Regulation deposit system.

Only 1% of landfilled waste was glass, which may be due to high recycling rates for glass in the city. Ironically, glass collected by recyclers is not actually recycled due to the economics and logistics of recycling the material. Crushed glass is used as daily landfill cover to prevent windblown litter and to compact material. Fortunately, glass is inert, which means it does not leach toxic chemicals like plastic does when landfilled.


What’s next?


These findings highlight the importance of continued efforts to divert organic material from landfill. Composting prevents methane release and toxic leachate formation. It also creates high quality compost which can be used to amend poor Yukon soils. This is good for local food production and reduces our reliance on imported goods.

Reducing our reliance on single-use plastics should also be a priority. These items are filling up our landfill at alarming rates. On top of that, the production of plastics is an increasingly significant contributor to global emissions.

There are many different diversion programs in place nationally and internationally. We can look to other jurisdictions for inspiration. We must continue to reduce our consumption and waste generation in order to lower our emissions.

Our population is growing and waste generation along with it. The more policy and infrastructure we can create to reduce resource use and recover the resources we use, the better off we’ll be.



Earth Day Reflections

“The ideology of consumption is so prevalent that it has become invisible: it is the plastic soup in which we swim.” –   George Monbiot

Earth Day was first held on April 22, 1970 as a series of demonstrations against growing air and water pollution. Almost 50 years on, it has grown into a global event. According to the Earth Day Network, “more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.”

It is not surprising that Earth Day has grown so significant. As the evidence of human impact on the Earth’s climate continues to mount, a global movement to protect the environment has grown. Decades of inaction on climate change have inspired generations of activists. Worldwide there is now a growing community dedicated to solving the most important social, environmental and economic issue of our time.

   Signs from the recent global School Strike for Climate that took place in March of 2019 (Goran H/Pixabay).


According to a new scientific report from Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canada’s North is warming at more than three times the global average. Our oceans around the country are becoming more acidic, and Arctic sea ice, our reflective shield against solar radiation, is melting rapidly, leading to further warming. Animal populations and habitats are collapsing, soils are rapidly being lost, and extreme weather events are becoming more common. The global climate crisis is inextricably linked to our unsustainable way of life. Our pursuit of a four-planet lifestyle is overwhelming the Earth’s living systems to the point that we have permanently altered the planet.

Observed changes (°C) in annual temperature across Canada between 1948 and 2016 (Canada’s Changing Climate Report).


So what can we do? Individual behaviour changes are one way we can attempt to lower our own environmental footprint. Refusing disposable products is a start. By saying no to single-use items, we are sending a message to producers that we want our products redesigned. After all, waste is just a product of bad design. We must live simply. We can bring our own bags to the grocery store and refill our reusable mugs. Shop local and choose products with recycled or minimal packaging. Composting organics creates new soils for growing local food, and prevents the release of methane from our landfills.

Look online and you will find countless suggestions for how we can take responsibility for our individual impacts. Unfortunately, reducing our own impacts has limits. Our individual behaviours can only do so much in a system designed for endless economic growth.

According to the Carbon Majors Database, just 100 fossil fuel companies have been responsible for 71% of global greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. Privatization, deregulation, tax cuts, free trade deals and government subsidies have allowed global corporations to generate massive profits at the expense of the environment. The responsibility for environmental protection has been surreptitiously shifted to the individual. Meanwhile, the Nestlés, the Coca-Colas and the ExxonMobils get off scot-free.


Just 100 private and state-owned companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions since 1988 (Carbon Majors Database).


The good news is things are changing. We are in the midst of a climate movement. In March, over one million students participated in a global school strike for the climate led by Greta Thunberg, a youth activist not even old enough to vote. Growing consumer activism is forcing governments to regulate, producers to redesign, and grocery stores to un-package. Fossil fuel divestment and pipeline protests are signalling to politicians and corporations that enough is enough. They will have to adapt to a green economy or risk being left behind.

Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, center, leads a march of thousands of French students through Paris, France, to draw more attention to fighting climate change, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. Sign reads : “school strike for the climate”. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)


Saving our environment means more than reducing our own consumption. It means challenging the system that protects corporate interests at the expense of people and ecosystems. This Earth Day, and every day after until things change, we must stand up to corporate power. We must demand our political leaders to act, and fight for the planet. After all, it’s the only one we’ve got.



The Poor Creature

“Life is for all poor creatures to enjoy. Good food helps.”

If you’ve been to the new NorthLight Innovation Hub on 2nd Avenue you might have noticed a little corner cafe has set up shop.

The Poor Creature opened its doors on December 3, 2018 and serves up delicious plant-based hot meals, salads, coffee, freshly baked goods and sweet treats.

“We care about our ingredients, and you” states their website. Owner Brioni Connolly and her team cook everything from scratch using plant-based ingredients and whole foods. They don’t use palm oil or refined sugar, and the ingredients they use are ethical and local whenever possible.

The cafe sources organic ingredients from places like the Potluck Food Co-Op in Whitehorse and Organic Matters in Nelson, BC, ordering things in bulk as much as possible to reduce waste. Brioni is currently talking to a number of Yukon farmers to figure out how they can supply her kitchen. They reuse materials as much as possible, “recycle like crazy,” and minimize their use of plastic – and it shows.

This tiny bag of garbage was all that was created in a week of work at The Poor Creature. Their dedication to reducing what they use, reusing and recycling means there’s little left to go in the garbage. (The Poor Creature)


“I always daydreamed about opening a cafe,” says Brioni. “When I went on maternity leave in 2016, I started doing market research and business planning on the rare occasion my son Luan would nap.”

Brioni applied for the open cafe space at NorthLight and was chosen to set up shop. So what’s on the menu?

The recipes are a collection Brioni has built over the years, and the menu is constantly changing. Some of the offerings include homemade masala chai (with lots of ginger!) and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (delicious!). They also have a great selection of rotating lunch options, such as Asian tofu stew, roasted parsnip soup, potato and roasted hazelnut salad, and many others. They also offer espresso now, using organic and fair-trade coffee from Bean North Coffee Roasters.

The cafe has been a hit for Yukonstruct and Cospace members as well as other hungry Whitehorse workers.

Tikka Masala is just one of the hot lunches served up on The Poor Creature’s ever changing menu. (The Poor Creature)


The Poor Creature has recently started offering Zero Waste take-out options, providing food in reusable mason jars. Customers pay a deposit for the jar and can return it to get the money back (or refill it). They also have an extra charge for compostable take-out containers to encourage customers to bring their own containers.

Zero Waste take-out is now on the menu as well, customers can pay a deposit for the jar and bring it back to be re-filled! (The Poor Creature)


The Poor Creature also sells nothing in plastic, offering only canned beverages and ensuring everything that goes out the door (even the tea bags) is plastic-free.

“We hardly create any garbage,” says Brioni. Almost everything they use is compostable or recyclable, and they only generate a small amount of garbage from things like soiled aluminum foil. They also separate edible compost from non-edible and give the edible scraps to a local farm that raises hens.

The idea of using less, reusing, and striving for Zero Waste is front and centre in the cafe’s activities. Recently, they repurposed the old Super-Valu sign that was salvaged by Yukonstruct’s former executive director Jarret Slipp during NorthLight’s renovations. Brioni sees this as a neat way to reuse but also to pay homage to what came before and the people who made Whitehorse what it is today.

The old Super-Valu sign makes a neat addition to the cafe’s aesthetic, and pays homage to what came before. (The Poor Creature)


The Poor Creature is a shining example of how the food service industry can operate with a minimal footprint and model Zero Waste for its customers.

So stop in, grab a chai, and don’t forget your reusable mug!


The Poor Creature is located in the NorthLight Innovation Hub at 2180 2nd Avenue in Whitehorse. Visit or follow them on Facebook or Instagram for more info!



Fill the gallery and say NO to single-use!

Bugged about bags?


Dear Zero Waste advocates and partners, we’re getting ready to present our petition April 2nd, but you can still sign the petition at Raven Recycling until April 1st.


Show your support and help us fill the gallery at the Yukon Legislative Assembly to present our petition for a single-use bag fee!

April 2nd, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Yukon Legislative Assembly
(2071 2nd Ave, Whitehorse)

In just a few short weeks over 1400 Yukoners have signed their names supporting a fee on single-use bags. Yukon Government has recently begun consulting on how to implement such a fee. Please fill out their survey at

Help us send a collective message that this is only a small step, and there is a lot more work to be done to combat single-use plastic waste!

Please share widely, and tell your friends! Let’s let this government know we support continued, dedicated action to reduce single-use plastics in our Territory!

Please respect the public gallery rules of decorum, no signs, etc.


Follow the event on Facebook


Learn more about bag fees and our campaign on our Think Outside The Bag page!


For more information, contact or 667-7269 ext. 27.



Yukon Government announces proposed single-use bag surcharge!

On Tuesday the Government of Yukon announced it was seeking input into a proposed single-use shopping bag surcharge.

They are looking for input from Yukoners into how to apply a surcharge, the surcharge amount, type of bags, potential exemptions, timing and approach for implementation.

Take the Survey!


From the Engage Yukon website:

“The Government of Yukon recognizes the impact of plastic waste and has committed, along with federal, provincial and territorial environment ministers, to work towards significant reductions in waste disposal and zero plastic waste in Canada.
One way in which the Yukon government is helping decrease plastic waste is through a proposed surcharge on single-use shopping bags received at point-of-sale.

This is one of many steps that the Government of Yukon is planning to take to improve the territory’s recycling system and make it more sustainable.

The collection of fees for single-use shopping bags will contribute to making recycling more financially sustainable in Yukon and act as a disincentive for their use. Our goal is to reduce single-use shopping bag usage by 70%”


Ministers Frost and Streicker weighed in on the announcement.

“Northern Canadians are among the highest waste producers per capita in the world. We can do better. Reducing waste keeps our environment clean and our communities healthy,” said Minister of Environment Pauline Frost.

According to Minister of Community Services John Streicker,

“The Government of Yukon spends approximately $6 million every year to deal with waste including $3 million on non-refundable items such as plastics… A surcharge on single-use shopping bags is a simple yet significant way we can reduce waste, improve our recycling system and make it more sustainable.”


Last fall the Yukon Legislative Assembly unanimously adopted a motion (Motion 294, as amended) urging the Government of Yukon to “work towards eliminating the distribution of single-use plastic, including plastic bags, food and beverage containers, straws, utensils, lids, and packaging.”

We’re thrilled to see some serious movement on this issue, and it’s very encouraging to see that actions are being taken to address the growing issue of single-use plastics in the Yukon environment. In Northwest Territories, a single-use bag program has reduced bag usage by over 70% and also provided revenue to the territory’s recycling programs.


Want to give your input on the proposed single-use bag surcharge? Visit to participate in the online survey!


Riverside Grocery

Guest post alert!

We asked the folks at Riverside Grocery to tell us about their Zero Waste efforts – here’s their story!


Moving towards Zero Waste has been a work in progress for us. Beginning with single use plastic grocery bags, we continue to brainstorm ways to eliminate more and more unnecessary waste that we produce. While we have increased our awareness and reduced our waste by approximately 90%, there are still a lot of ways we can continue to improve.

In July of 2015, we announced that we would be eliminating single use plastic grocery bags in the upcoming months. We received a mainly encouraging response, and a lot of questions about why we made this decision. After seeing so many bags littering the streets and wilderness of not only the Yukon, but the oceans, forests, and beaches we visited, we were inspired to make a change. The elimination of bags turned out to be an easy transition and our customers were so supportive. On October 10, 2015, we gave away our last single use plastic grocery bag. To ensure continued success we provide cardboard boxes for customers to take home, help customers carry groceries to the car, and of course encourage everyone to bring a bag.


Riverside’s delicious soft-serve ice-cream can be served into any container, and they encourage customers to bring their own!




We were happy to see the positive response from our community, and from there we were aware of all the other areas we could easily improve upon. We had sourced compostable cups for our coffee, soft-serve ice cream and slushies, but we were still using plastic straws. In 2016 we sourced bulk compostable paper straws so everything we provide for ice cream and slushies is completely compostable.

When the City of Whitehorse began the pilot program for businesses to have compost bins, we jumped in whole-heartedly. Having an organic produce section in store it made perfect sense. Between composting and being much more aware of our recycling, especially paper and cardboard, we have reduced our garbage production by approximately 90%.

In addition to our compost bin, we put all of our certified organic produce that would be composted aside for Ibex Valley Farm. The chickens at Ibex Valley eat all of our no-longer-perfect organics and produce quality eggs that we sell. This mutually beneficial relationship reduces waste and energy, strengthens the business community in town, and gives us a great way to get to know the impressive and wonderful business of Ibex Valley Farm.

Bulk Bins!


The next phase came in spring of 2018 with the arrival of our bulk bins. We had wanted bulk bins for years, and we knew all along that when finally got them we wanted them to be as waste-free as possible. We would need a reliable ‘tare’ system so customers could bring any container they had available, and and easy to learn system of refilling containers. We always encourage customers bring their own container when possible, and foster a learning environment for bulk shopping. From our own experience we know it can take a few reminders to bring containers and bags; it’s a process that doesn’t happen overnight.

There are numerous options in bulk at Riverside, and the best part is you can tare your own container, something the larger grocery chains don’t allow (Photo: Riverside Grocery)


When we got the tare system up and running (‘taring’ is the ability to weigh a container before filling it, allowing someone to pay for only the weight of the product inside the container, and not pay for the weight of the container itself), the sky was the limit. We now offer a Bring Your Own Container option for everything in our bulk bins,  soft serve ice cream, slushies, icebergs, penny candy, locally brewed Summit Kombucha, and bar soap and shampoo bars from fellow Zero Hero, The Yukon Soaps Company. It is so encouraging to see so many people coming in with containers doing their best to reduce their waste. From coffee mugs from home for ice cream, to home made cloth bags to grab a few handfuls of snow peas from the produce cooler.

Zero Waste soaps from the Yukon Soaps Company in Mayo, YT.


We still have a long way to go on the road to Zero Waste, and we have a few more ideas up our sleeves. While everyone tries their best, it is a work in progress and we still love seeing someone carrying a big cardboard box filled with groceries out the door if they forget their bags. The participation from the community is what keeps us inspired and motivated to do more. We are learning along with the rest of town; only 5 short years ago the thought of Zero Waste was barely on our minds. However, it is amazing to see what a close-knit town of like minded, outdoor adventuring, passionate people can achieve.


Riverside Grocery is located at 201 Lowe St. in Whitehorse. Check them out at or on Facebook or Instagram!



Fahrenheit Hair

Maybe you have heard the buzz around Whitehorse lately about a certain salon doing things a little differently. Indeed, Chantelle Tarapaski and her team at Fahrenheit Hair are leading the way when it comes to waste diversion. Fahrenheit is the only salon in the Yukon to be designated a Green Circle Salon, and is a model for other local businesses.

Owner of Fahrenheir Hair Chantelle Tarapaski gave a tour to Mayor Dan Curtis to discuss all the ways they’re diverting waste (Photo: Fahreneheit Hair)


What’s a Green Circle Salon?


Green Circle Salons is a business dedicated to diverting salon and spa waste from landfills and waterways. By signing up with Green Circle, Fahrenheit now has a way to repurpose and recover some of the resources that they cannot recycle locally, many of which are contaminated.

Green Circle approached Tarapaski to see if she wanted to sign up for their service. At first, she admits she was hesitant.

“I felt that Green Circle might be using us to profit on protecting the environment, but then I realized this was a good thing because they were actually doing something good,” she says.

“If gas companies can profit off something harmful to the Earth, why shouldn’t a business profit off helping to protect it?”

A glimpse at Fahrenheit Hair salon, located at 2099 2nd Ave in Whitehorse (Photo: Fahrenheit Hair)


Before signing up, Tarapaski wanted to make sure that she knew what was going to happen to the materials her salon sent out. She took a trip south to tour the Green Circle facilities. She drilled them about different items and was impressed with the system in place for recovering materials.

Fahrenheit pays Green Circle for the service, and in return, ships out her salon waste to be recycled. Tarapaski recoups some of the cost by charging a $2 eco-fee to her customers, who are glad to pay. All the recyclable materials and contaminates are collected and stored before they are shipped out to Green Circle.

Aerosols and colour tubes are some of the hard to recycle materials that Fahrenheit ships out through Green Circle (Photo: Fahrenheit Hair)


What does Green Circle collect?


Fahrenheit Hair collects and ships a long list of different items to Green Circle. Contaminated foils, aerosols, colour tubes, excess hair colour, and any spa waste with contaminates or chemicals are included. They also send their hair clippings.

The hair clippings go to a corrections facility in Maple Ridge, where they are stuffed into old nylons to create booms. These booms are used to soak up oil spills from water. When the booms have been used and re-used to their capacity, they are brought to mushroom fields where they are broken down by fungal spores.

Some other items are separated and recycled, while the remainder go to a waste-to-energy incinerator. On top of all the materials shipped out through Green Circle, Fahrenheit collects all their recyclables, and keeps a compost bin in the staff room for organics. They’ve also invested in water saving EcoHead taps.

Materials like contaminated foils are stored in the office until there’s enough to make a shipment to Green Circle (Photo: Fahrenheit Hair)


Tarapaski says she was asked a lot about the salon materials from her customers and was feeling some pressure to give them answers.

She says making the change to divert more waste was a bit of work at the beginning, but now things are easier.

“I wasn’t always environmentally conscious,” she says.  “Now I get anxiety in the stores when I see all the packaging.”

There are many containers associated with running a salon, so that means many trips to the recycling centre.

“My offices are full of recycling but it’s worth it,” she says.

Fahrenheit diverts about 95% of their waste, and fills less than half a small bag of trash every month.


What’s next?


Tarapaski says the response from her customers has been nothing but positive. She’s continuing to look at ways the salon can further reduce its footprint.

She is looking into whether her hair clippings could go to our local composting facility, which would save on emissions. She also has plans to order some organic cotton produce bags that she can provide free to customers.

More importantly, Tarapaski is encouraging more local salons to sign up. She’s hoping the industry gets to a point where every salon is working cooperatively to reduce their waste.

Wouldn’t that be something?


Fahrenheit Hair is located at 2099 – 2nd Ave. For more information call 668-2882 or visit their Facebook page.