Going back from beauty salon, what becomes the main attention must be the new hair style that we have. But what about the clipped hair that has been trimmed off from our head? Who want to bat an eye and pay attention to them?
Not so many people do, because mostly the clipped hair is thrown away in the waste. However, some people care enough to pay attention to the clipped hair and make something useful for the environment.
This Belgian NGO is collecting human clipped hair for The Hair Recycle Project. Collecting human clipped hair from all over the country, the NGO then turns it into a kind of mat that can help us clean the environment.
So, how can we use human hair to clean up the environment? Will it become a breakthrough or another innovation that most people would just overlook? Here in this article, we are going to talk about it.
Hair Clipping Problem
Have you ever wondered where all the clipped hair goes after the salon keepers sweep them? You might not want to listen to the answer, because it is not very heartwarming. The clipped hair usually goes to the landfill and stay there until it decomposes naturally.
The problem is, we should not think of our hair like our other body parts such as skin that can be decomposed easily. Hair is made of keratin and it decomposes very slowly that it usually takes years, not months let alone days.
Amy Goei, director of education at Green Circle Salons said that the way beauty salons treat clipped hair makes it take even longer time to decompose. “Typically speaking, salons just sweep hair up and put it in the trash, and then it goes straight to landfill in a trash bag,” she said.
“Because all the hair is stuffed into a bag with the top closed, it’s not exposed to light and oxygen and everything it needs to break down, and so not only does it not really biodegrade, it actually releases methane,” as she explained to The Cut.
And the amount of hair going to landfill is not small. According to her company’s data, every year the company can collect around 154,000 pounds of hair from their 4,100 partner salons, which means each salon produces around 37.5 pounds of clipped hair each year.
The Dung Dung
Now, this is where things get interesting. As we mentioned above about a Belgium NGO that collects clipped hair for a solution of our environment problem, the name of the NGO is the Dung Dung. Pretty weird? We also think so.
They collect hair from hairdressers all across the country for this project. The collected hair is then fed into a knitting machine that turn them into a kind of mattress. This mattress then can be used to absorb oil and other kinds of pollutants in the environment.
To use it, simply we can put it in drains and let it soak up all the pollutants so that the pollution cannot reach bigger water bodies. Not only that, the mat can also be used to clean up pollution after a flood or clean up oil spills.
“Our products are all the more ethical as they are manufactured locally… they are not imported from the other side of the planet. They are made here to deal with local problems,” said co-founder of the project, Patrick Janssen.
This mat is actually a good solution for our water pollution problem since it can absorb up to eight times its weight of pollutants from water. One kilogram of hair in form of this mat can absorb up to eight liters of hydrocarbons and oil.
Another example of using human hair to clean up the environment can be found in France. A hairdresser in Saint-Zacharie, Thierry Gras, founded a project that collect clipped human hair and stuff it into nylon stockings.
This ‘hair sausage’ can then be functioned as the mat we talked about with the same capability of absorbing pollutants eight times its weight. Gras has done it since 2015 and worked together with over 3000 hair salons all across the country.
He sold the product for around $11 each and reinvest the profits he got for development of employment center where the production process takes place. For your information, workers of this project were the ones who needed the work the most.
Most of them were unemployed or left school without having any qualification. But with the project, they can now do something for the living and gain money that they can use to improve themselves whether in education or quality of life.
This is obviously an upgrade to what we used to do with our clipped hair, because this way instead of ending up in the landfill we can give it a contribution to clean our environment. even the project of Thierry Gras also helped unemployed locals to get a job. How amazing is that?
Have you also heard about cleaning oil spill of MV Wakashio on the island of Mauritius? In that tragedy, locals gathered their hair and packed it in bags to stop the oil spill went larger. It showed a significant result and fortunately it indeed prevented a bigger disaster.
Hair is actually a superior natural product in order to soak up pollutants from water. Even compared to manufactured materials, hair is still superior. Better, it costs zero dollar to produce and biodegradable.
Even if when we need a lot of supply for greater disasters, we can also wash the used ones so that it can work again for the second, third, or maybe fourth time. Do not forget that we have endless supply of it.
Hair is an excellent product that is naturally produced by our body to protect our head from the heat and cold. But not only working on those things, hair can also become one of the best materials to clean up water pollution.
Therefore, the next time you clip your hair, make sure to check where would it go from the salon .