You wouldn’t normally associate a trip to the hairdresser salon or barber shop with recycling, but now you can.
More and more salons are stepping up to the challenge of recycling the products they use and waste they generate.
When you think of waste from a hair salon the first thought would obviously be hair, loads of it, all colours and lengths. Lots of places just sweep it up and bin it, human hair does decompose eventually so it’s not a major toxic landfill issue or hazardous to health when buried but those into recycling realise there must be something that waste human hair can be useful for other than filling the landfill.
Read on for a few ways that human hair can be recycled or reused in quite useful ways. You might be surprised and even grossed out by some of its uses.
Product Testing: If you are in the business of making hair products then you will need hair to test it on. All types of beauty products are tested this way before hitting the shelves.
Toy Stuffing: Yes, people actually stuff Toys! with waste human hair, and its not just far away third world countries that recycle human hair this way, companies in US do it too.
Oil and Chemical Repellents: Back in 1998 a US based hairdresser, Phillip McCrory, worked with NASA scientists to develop a tube filled with human hair. The tube, once compacted with hair trimmings can be used for absorbing and controlling oil and chemical spills. His idea came from a documentary he watched on rescuing animals from spilled oils. From watching the show, he noticed animal air absorbed oils so maybe human hair would too, and it does. His invention is used in practice today.
Soy Sauce: Apparently human hair is full of proteins which some Chinese companies use to better its Soy Sauce. Human hair is soaked in chemicals to distil the ammino acids which are then used as ingredients in Soy Sauce. “Human hair is rich in protein content, just like soybean, wheat and bran, the conventional and legally accepted raw ingredients for the production of soy sauce”. Although good quality sauce manufacturers do not use this process its worth a thought next time you enjoy it.
Wig and Toupe Making: For longer, hair wig making is an obvious way of recycling human hair. Wigs are essential to some people for medical reasons, hair extensions and wigs are also a popular fashion accessory too.
It’s not just waste hair that is heading for the hair salons and barbers recycling schemes, recycling companies and salons are looking at more and more ways of recycling things like waste or left-over hair treatments such as dyes and bleach as well as the tubes and containers they come in too. Waste metal foils, gloves and even PPE is all on the recycling hit list for environmentally aware businesses.