Salon hair waste can be a valuable addition to a number of planet-positive processes and so it is incredibly important to make sure it is not just thrown away with the rubbish! Keep reading to learn more about all of the ways Green Salon Collective transforms hair salon waste into unique products that are beneficial to the environment and our industry!
When salons use Green Salon Collective to dispose of their hair waste they can be assured that it will be reused and recycled in over 10 different ways, which you can learn more about below. By separating your salon waste out into hair, metals and other recyclable materials, you can avoid cross-contamination and make sure all your waste is recycled, composted and disposed of responsibly.
Here’s what we do with your salon’s hair waste, if you want to get involved and recycle your salon’s hair waste, get in touch on 0333 577 6967, firstname.lastname@example.org or buy your hair and metals starter kit here.
Composting and Gardening
Hair is rich in Nitrogen which makes it a perfect fertilised for local and industrial composting. Green Salon Collective has been working with an industrial composting facility in the UK, as well as collaborating with local farmers and gardeners who are happy to make use of the hair waste.
Waterway Clean Ups - Hair booms and Hair Mats
We all know that hair absorbs oil--we’ve all had oily hair at some point! It was this realisation that led to the concept of hair booms. It was an American hairdresser, Phil McCoy, who in the 1990s came up with the idea of using hair to stop the spread of oil in the sea.
“Phil had been washing an oily head of hair while watching CNN coverage of otters covered in petrol during the famous Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska. It occurred to him that he was cutting fiber that could be used to soak up oil spills.” (Quote from Matter of Trust.)
A hair boom is made from hair cuttings of any length or colour that are tightly packed into cotton or nylon tubes. When placed in either water or on the shores of beaches, these booms will stop oil (e.g. from an oil spill) from spreading, saving wildlife and the natural landscape. Some of the hair we collect will be turned into hair booms. We do not outsource the making of this product. This is an in-house recipe and we will be the first provider of hair booms in the UK.
Plus, with our very own Green Salon Collective felting machine, we can create a hair mat that can be used to cover storm drains or clean up waterways! They can be used on land, parks, gardens and even your street or driveway. Hair mats can be used for oil or water and we have already seen great results when used by plumbers, mechanics and in local parks.
In 2022 we worked with a London based regenerative manufacturer called Biohm. They have a unique binding material called ‘orb’, which they combined with Green Salon Collective’s salons’ hair waste! This resulted in particleboard-like sheets, as well as moulded 3D objects. They also tried a second experiment working with mycelium, the root structure of fungi, to grow around hair to create insulation panels.
We worked with Natural Fibre Co., a British woollen mill based in Cornwall, to develop a hair-wool fibre alternative, creating a solution to traditional petroleum or cotton based yarns and gardening twines. Our current blend is 40:60 hair and wool blend, using waste hair salon hair and undervalued wool that’s otherwise destined for compost.
Hair Rope Making
Through our work with Sanne Visser, our research partner and a Design Researcher in Residence at The Design Museum, we collaborated to create a unique workshop. Its aims are to explore hair rope making, whilst inspiring participants to rethink the concept of waste. By making macrame ropes to hold plant pots, we’re looking at all the different ways hair rope can be used!
One of our ongoing projects is being undertaken by Stephanie, our head of R&D and is working on conducting an experiment on the ability of hair waste working as a ‘potting felt’ for house plants. The hair felt would work to save water, deter pests and release nitrogen into the soil to help promote growth and reduced environmental impact.
As part of London Design Festival this year, we collaborated with architecture and research firm, Pareid, to explore salon hair waste in architecture and building materials. Embracing a circular economy means not just rethinking waste—the central tenet of this concept—but also being open to the future of materials and where we source them. We would argue that salons are as good a place as any to look. Our exploration of salon hair waste as a resource began well before this project and the making of Chiaroscuro1.
We can use even the shortest of hair in the Green Salon Collective hair recycling projects, however, when the hair is long enough to create a wig, that is what we will do!
Working with dressmakers and designers, we can turn hair into dresses and clothes. In 2022, Green Salon Collective was featured in museums across the UK and Europe showcasing what can be done with hair! We’re also going to be collaborating with Jenni Dutton, an artist making a dress from waste salon hair. You can learn more about the hair dress project here.
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Written by MeetthefiveRs, edited by Jess Rigg.
References and further reading
MeetthefiveRs’ article, Green Salon Collective: Circular disposal solutions for salon waste
Little Princess Trust’s website
Banbury Postiche Wigs UK website
Bloomsbury Wigs Hair Harvest website
Cancer Research UK’s article, Hair donation and wigs
Electrek’s article, How Mauritians are using human hair to try to curb the giant oil spill
Matter of Trust’s Clean Wave Program
Science Alert’s article, Could Human Hair Be Used to Clean Up Oil Spills?
Science Daily’s article, NASA Tests Hair-Raising Technique To Clean Up Oil Spills
Cover photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash