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Take a Strand on Recycling
When a sheep gets a haircut, the sheered wool is made into warm sweaters and socks, but when we humans go to get a haircut it’s a little different. Hair is the fastest growing tissue in the body, second only to bone marrow. On average, hair grows a half inch per month, which is 35 meters of hair produced each day on the average adult scalp. That’s a lot of hair each year! You can donate and recycle your hair in some interesting ways.
One of the simplest ways to utilize hair is in your compost pile. This goes for pet hair too. In fact, the hair on your head contains 30 times more nitrogen than manure. During the growing season, side-dress your plants with compost to provide a very slow-release source of this nutrients. Depending on your compost method, it can take 1-2 years to totally decompose.
Fun fact: You lose about a 100 hairs from your head per day.
Since you’re not Rapunzel and won’t be reusing it as climbing rope any time soon, read about these other ways to recycle hair.
Give Your Hair New Meaning
You may have heard of Locks of Love, a nonprofit which provides hairpieces to children in need as a result of chemotherapy, radiation treatments, burns, or other medical circumstances. Make a hair or financial contribution today, or learn about other ways to help on their site.
Your donated hair can help make a wig with Wigs for Kids, another nonprofit organization that also provides a hair replacement system to any eligible child who has medical hair loss from any diagnosis. All donations are sincerely appreciated.
Beautiful Lengths is a partnership between Pantene and the American Cancer Society, whose wig banks distribute wigs to cancer patients across the country. You can get involved by reading about program requirements. For example, your hair must be at least 8 inches long to turn it into a wig. To date, Pantene has donated 18,000 free real-hair wigs through the program. Read up on how to prepare your hair for donation on their site.
Many groups organize hair-cutting events to collects as much for these programs as possible, and the Beautiful Lengths site provides a great kit for how to plan one.
Hair for Oil Spills
Besides large oil spills, according to the EPA, 50% of the oil spilled in our waterways every year also comes from motor oil runoff. Your hair can be made into an oil catcher, or boom. Booms are made from natural waste fibers such as hair clippings from salons, fur clippings from groomers and leftover fleece from alpaca, llama and other fleece farmers.
San Francisco nonprofit Matter of Trust collects human and pet hair to create booms that soak up oil as they float along the surface of the water. They are rung out and reused many times. To help raise recycling and clean oceans awareness, Matter of Trust also provides free kits for schools and science labs to use and show how renewable hair fibers soak up oil.
Learn other slick tips on how to recycle motor oil while you’re at it.
Hair for Your Garden
Human hair is just one of the methods used to discourage deer and rabbits from feeding on plants in your garden. Tie it to branches and animals will be deterred. Hot pepper spray, certain soaps, or urine are also used, and mixed and matched often for when deer become desensitized to the one or the other.