Why your salon should consider donating hair waste
Last updated: Monday, September 9, 2019
Food, water, energy…people around the world are more and more conscious about wasting natural resources. Did you ever think about how this could include human hair, too?
If we braid all the hair that is thrown out by salons worldwide, we could probably circle the Earth with it. Why not use it to do something good instead? We want to show you two ways how to recycle your salon’s hair waste.
1. Turning old hair into new hair
The most obvious and well-known reuse of hair is the creation of human hair wigs. As hairdressers, you understand how emotional it is for your clients to lose their hair due to chemotherapy during cancer treatment or for other medical reasons. For us, at NATULIQUE this is also a personal matter.
As some of you may know, NATULIQUE’s CEO Mette had breast cancer when she was younger. “As someone who always loved their hair, the fear of losing mine when I was sick was devastating. It’s comforting to know that there are people willing to donate their own hair for others in the same situation”, she says.
To the present day, it is still quite expensive to get access to human hair wigs for patients, in particular for children. This is where your salon comes in: Charities all over the world take in hair from salons, transform it into wigs and then distribute them to patients for free. Amber from Midori Organic Salon and Spa has been donating hair for many years. It’s a classic win-win:
“The clients are always excited and happy to donate! It’s especially rewarding when a child is donating, they have so much pride at that moment. As a salon, we can share in a gift that will change someone’s life and on-top create a note-worthy cause for our business”, Amber explains.
“I wish more salons would participate in this. Not only does it take multiple donations to complete one wig for a child in need. But decomposing hair also releases as much carbon as a vehicle! It’s not only a generous gift for a sick child but also a sustainable practice for the salon.”
Where can I donate my hair waste?
There are many organizations that accept hair donations for natural hair wigs. The following three examples have a big wig network:
What do I have to consider before making the cut?
Different hair donation organizations have different requirements for the hair they take in. However, there are some Do’s & Dont’s applying to most of them.
- wash hair and set it into a ponytail or braid before cutting;
- at least 8 – 12 inches long;
- hair of any gender;
- hair of any natural colour (coloured hair is mostly fine if it’s a natural colour);
- straight, wavy, curly, permed or chemically straightened hair.
- styling products in the freshly washed hair;
- hair less than 8 inches long –(it can’t be used to create wigs);
- bleached hair;
- split ends;
- more than 5-10% grey hair;
- unnatural hair colours.
2. Hairy Hero: The role of hair in an oil spill aftermath
Even if your hair is not suitable for wig donations, it doesn’t have to go to waste. It can still be used to clean the ocean in the aftermath of an oil spill. With human waste polluting the world’s oceans for centuries, it is hard to believe that hair waste can actually be beneficial for marine life. But it is true!
There are several companies using hair donations to create booms or mats to clean the ocean after an oil spill. As we all know, hair absorbs oil – otherwise, we wouldn’t have to wash it. But just as it collects oil from human skin, it can drain the oil out of the ocean.
Several NGOs developed a process that stuffs recycled hair, along with fur and wool, into nylon casing to create the booms. One pound of hair can soak up about one quart of oil.
Where can I donate to?
One of the largest organisations collecting hair for oil spills in the US is Matter Of Trust. “Our charity has done all the research and model factory work to help green businesses use our model anywhere in the world. Today we get the hair from every zip code in North America and 30 other countries – so generous”, states Lisa Gautier from Matter of Trust.
Currently, the organisation is promoting the establishment of hair mat factories in homes near ports, harbours and manufacturing sites. Manufacturing the mats directly where they’re needed would be better for the environment. “All that shipping isn’t great for the climate”, Lisa says.
In Canada, many NATULIQUE hairdressers have already joined Green Circle Salons to donate their hair waste. On top of hair clippings, they also recycle used foils, colour-tubes, papers and plastics, glass, and spa waste and divert them from landfills and waterways.
As you’ve seen there are many ways to make the most out of human hair waste. We hope this article inspired you to stop wasting and start donating.