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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Going blonde while staying green


Ava Eucker, Arts & Culture writer pictured on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. 

Hair is already dead. So why not douse it in bleach?

I like change when it comes to my naturally light brown hair. I have experimented with purple box dye in the summer and with blue Kool-Aid that unfortunately turned my tips into a greenish blotchy disaster. I have tried light streaks and once I even went black, all just for the hell of it.  

In late November of 2019, I was again ready for change — I wanted to go blonde. I googled "how to bleach hair" with the thought of doing it myself, but I quickly realized a few things:

1.  I am not artistic or creative. 

2.  I could burn my hair off.

So, I booked an appointment with Syd’s Hair Shop. Syd’s appealed to me as they focus on sustainability and partner with Green Circle Salons. They are committed to repurposing hair, foils and colors, among other things, to refrain from contributing to landfills. 

In 2019, Syd’s recycled 450 pounds of solid material and 29 pounds of color. The co-owner of Syd's, Amy-Jae Crawford, said one of their main goals is to help protect the planet. 

“We believe that it is vital to do our part to create less waste and to use products and product lines that are committed to keeping our planet and our clients healthy,” Crawford said.

In dyeing my hair, I was hoping to satiate my itch for change, and at Syd’s I could support sustaining our beautiful planet. It was a win-win.

Weeks later, sitting in the salon, I tried not to swivel in my chair. I wanted to maintain an “adulty” appearance, though I was internally somersaulting. My plan was caravanning into action.

I was soon weighted by sheets of foil and I was momentarily Medusa, sans magic. 

Hours later, infused with scents of nuptial newness and chemicals, I walked out of the shop feeling as if a flashlight was beaming out of my scalp. Though I still refrained from doing a somersault, I did quite literally jump with a flood of self-induced ecstasy. 

To be clear, a white goo smeared all over my scalp was not my anecdote for self-epiphany. I did not walk out of Syd’s Hair Shop to a world transformed. Feeling free and fun and daringly different from my previous look weren’t concocted in the bleach at all, it was all in the act of change. 

And it wasn’t a rash decision. I have been mulling over this idea for months, fighting against the idea that any decision could leave me vulnerable to clichés, or festering in a pool of questioning and judgement. Then I decided to just live my life.

I wanted to go blonde to feel the constant hug of sunshine around my shoulders and to allow my energy to reverberate in a new form. It feels good.  

I attribute my positive experience to my love of my new hair, but more so to my appreciation for shops like Syd’s, and Green Circle Salons as a whole, for valuing our environment through small acts of grassroots change.  

In being environmentally conscious, Syd’s uses ammonia-free color lines and avoids corporate-owned companies. In the past, Syd’s even donated hair to farmers to sprinkle on fields as fertilizer.

Grassroots is a popular buzz word these days to empower collective community action. Syd’s doubles down on this theme by rooting their values in recycling while also dyeing hair roots — in my case, a bright, sunshiny sheen. 


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