At New Salon, the Shampoo Bottles Turn Into Trees

Salon Eco ChicMelvin Felix Salon Eco Chic

After Natalie Esfandiari is done using the shampoo bottles that line the wall at her new hair salon, she’ll bury them in the ground somewhere. Then they’ll grow into trees.

The bottles at Eco Chic, which opened last month, are made of a biodegradable plastic that serves as compost for seeds that are plugged into the bottom of the container. They’re part of a number of ecologically-friendly products that make Eco Chic one of the most environmentally-conscious hair salons in the East Village.

“Everything here is 100 percent organic certified,” said Ms. Esfandiari, a 34-year-old Iranian who grew up in Denmark and worked at a Japanese hair salon elsewhere in the neighborhood before striking out on her own.

A letter postmarked in 1960.Melvin Felix Letter postmarked 1960.

The salonkeeper said all of her products are ammonia-free and were not tested on animals, and that she uses a keratin treatment system with no formaldehyde. She became interested in organic products, she said, when a fellow stylist died of cancer after repeatedly performing Brazilian Blowouts, a procedure that involves exposure to formaldehyde gas. “All her family blamed it on harsh chemicals and the color products that she used,” said Ms. Esfandiari, adding, “I do it for the survival of the stylists and the consumers as well.”

A focus on recycling is also evident in the decorations at Eco Chic. Emptied-out cigar boxes from a tobacco store next to her home in Jersey City hold the hair products on the store’s walls. White towels are stacked in wine crates from her East Village neighbor Tinto Fino. And emptied-out lightbulbs holding flowers hang by the salon’s clear storefront.

When the building’s super – “I call him the Superman,” Ms. Esfandiari said – installed part of an old wooden desk on the wall to use as shelving, Ms. Esfandiari found a worn-out letter in one of the desk’s drawers that was postmarked in 1960. She liked it so much that she framed it and now displays at the salon.

A blackboard by the door announced the door’s special: a $40 men’s haircut. Women’s haircuts go up to $120. “It’s a little bit more expensive,” she admitted, “because it’s environmentally conscious. but my clients prefer to pay more and be organic about it rather than not.”

Hey, not all haircuts can be $15.