When most people think about recycling items out of their rubbish clearance, they don’t usually think about hair… but really you should! Like other organic materials, such as food and natural fiber clothing, when hair is put in landfills, it gets buried into places that lack oxygen. As hair breaks down in these anaerobic conditions, it produces greenhouse gases that harm the planet. This is true for both human hair and pet hair.
Hair From Home
When you brush your hair, some of it breaks off and gets caught in your hair brush or comb. This hair is often thrown in a rubbish clearance bin which is then taken to landfills. The same is true for beard trimming, home hair cuts, and the hair generated from grooming dogs and cats.
Hair From Beauty Shops and Barber Shops
According to Habia (Hair & Beauty Industry Authority), there are about 35,704 beauty salons and 2967 barbershops in the UK and they all generate a lot of hair waste. On average, each beauty shop sweeps about one pound of hair off the floor and bins it each day of operation!
Hair From Pet Groomers
Pet groomers generate even more hair waste than beauty shops and barber shops. On average, they put about about two pounds of dog hair in the rubbish clearance bin per day of operation. Remember too, that hair doesn’t weigh very much so two pounds of dog hair is A LOT of dog hair volume wise!
Are There Any Recycling Solutions For All This Hair?
So, what can you do with all this human hair and pet hair to divert it from landfills? Below, you’ll find several ideas that will put the hair to a much better use and eliminate the greenhouse gases it would produce if taken to a landfill.
Give Hair To the Birds For Nests
One of the sweetest signs of early spring is watching birds carry straw, twigs, and other scraps from nature in their beak to build a nest. Different species of birds build different kinds of nests utilizing different materials. There’s also variability between individual birds. All of this can be really fascinating for kids and nature lovers to watch!
You can make bird watching from home even more exciting by putting out pieces of your own hair and then watch the birds put it in their nests. Put the hair in places where the birds will feel safe to go but also in view of your window! Just like when you put out food or water for birds, putting out hair for them to use in their nests in the early spring will attract new birds into your garden and encourage them to build nests nearby.
Some birds, like wrens, look for really soft fur to line the inside of their nest so it will be warm, soft, and snugly for the newly hatched chicks. The soft undercoat fur of dog and cats is highly prized by these songbirds for this purpose. So, when your dog or cat starts shedding this fluffy winter undercoat in the early spring, save it up and then in early spring stash it in places you think birds will find it. Placing it in a safe place near a bird feeder is a good option since the birds will be sure to see it.
Some nests, like eagle nests, are reused year after year with a little patching up. Other nests are only used one year. Regardless, in all cases, without human intervention, all nesting materials will be eventually naturally composted. Thus, the hair you put out for birds will be recycled by nature.
Make Hair Fertilizer and Compost
Unlike a landfill, hair composts well in a garden setting because it receives adequate oxygen. It’s also quite high in nitrogen so it is the perfect fertilizer to add to roses since they thrive with extra nitrogen. Your neighbors will want to know your secret. Some vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes need extra nitrogen too so hair can come in handy. You can even weave hair into mats to place around these nitrogen loving plants to serve double duty as mulch and nitrogen fertilizer.
Besides the hair you save from the rubbish clearance bin at home, the next time you and your family members get a hair cut, ask for the clippings to take home. If you have a large garden, or participate in a community garden, you may want to ask your hair dresser or barber if he or she can save hair for you in boxes. The same goes for your neighborhood pet groomer. Put all that dog hair to good use!
Donate Hair To Make Wigs For Cancer Patients
Cancer patients often lose their hair during treatment so it can be a noble gesture to donate hair to make wigs for cancer patients. In fact, some school aged children have even organized hair donation drives when one of their classmates gets cancer.
According to Cancer Research UK, a non-profit charity, most places that accept hair donations for wigs require the hair be seven to fourteen inches long, as measured in a ponytail. One popular place to donate hair is Little Princess Trust. They make real hair wigs for children who undergo chemotherapy or other treatments that make them lose their hair.
Weave Hair Into Jewelry, Art, Rope, and Clothing
Native Americans were known to create strong rope by weaving together their own hair, and later after the Europeans arrived, by weaving together horse hair. In fact, in a pinch, hair can even be used to sew on a button, repair rips in clothing, or to close a wound.
In the Victorian Era, jewelry made from hair was all the rage. Hair jewelry was also made in the Middle Ages. In some cases, metals, seeds, and other adornments were added to these woven hair works of art. Beautiful wreaths were woven from hair, in some cases from a loved one as a special keepsake. This lost art is making a revival thanks in large part to a lady named Leila Cohoon, a hair dresser and cosmetology school instructor from Missouri, who now operates a hair history museum and teaches classes on how to turn hair into jewelry and other works of art.
If you want to keep your hair out of rubbish clearance bins, you may want to get really creative. Some people have begun making clothing from human hair and pet hair! Of course, you should shampoo it before you cut it if you plan to do this. In other cases, people use hair to create unique arts and crafts projects such a a picture frame woven with hair or a holiday decoration. Weaving together the hair from all family members or all members of an organization could be a very special present to give. In Leila’s museum, she has a wreath displayed with hair from the League of Women Voters in 1865! The possibilities are endless!
Clearabee Would Love To Hear About Your Hair Recycling Efforts
Clearabee is an on demand rubbish clearance company serving England, Scotland, and Wales. They promote programs, large and small, that divert rubbish from landfills. If you and your family get involved in hair recycling, post your pics and comments about these activities to their Facebook page and like their page.