Could you imagine cleaning up a pound of hair every day? Well that’s what more than 300,000 hair salons in the U.S. do at least once a day before closing time. The stylists carefully sweep up your old hair and throw it in the trash, leaving it destined for the dump.
Instead of taking the excess hair to the landfill, some entrepreneurs have come up with ways to recycle old hair into eco-friendly products. It may sound a bit strange, but there are some very cool things that hair can create. Here are a few:
Oil spill hair mat
Most people who follow the green movement can recall 1989’s Exxon Valdez oil spill. It is considered one of the worst human-caused environmental disasters in North American history, spilling over 10.8 million gallons of oil into the Alaskan sea.
Alabama hair stylist Phil McCrory watched the eco-tragedy television, and when he saw the oil-soaked animals, he got an idea. He noticed how the fur on otters helped to trap the oil, so he thought about using human hair to clean up oil spills. McCrory showed his idea to NASA, and the rest is hair history!
His idea helped inspire the OttiMat, which soaks up about 7.8 gallons of oil in less than 3 minutes. It can also be wrung out and reused more than 100 times. This video demonstrates:
McCrory’s invention inspired the charity organization Matter of Trust to create the Hair for Oil Spills Program, which takes hair donations from salons and turns the hair into oil spill mats.
(Photo: Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry)
Woven hair jewelry
The Victorian Hairwork Society was created for people who are interested in creating art out of hair.
In the 19th century, it was fashionable to weave sentimental jewelry out of a beloved -- and often deceased -- person's hair. People today are keeping the art, uh, alive.
For inspiration, check out the many vintage examples at Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry.
(Photo: Phil Smith and
Created by former hairstylist-to-the-stars Ronald Thompson, the unique stiletto chair was conjured up when Thompson was cleaning hair clippings on the set of Batman Begins.
He realized how sturdy a piece of hair was as opposed to fiberglass, and he decided to create an eco-friendly alternative to traditional fiberglass molds.
Thompson designed the stiletto chair, which is waterproof, fire-resistant, and totally amazing. Although it costs $15,000, he does hope to develop less-expensive models.
Human hair dress
Croatian designers at Artidjana Company used 165 feet of blond hair to make a dress worn by model Simona Gotovac. The outfit was featured at a fashion show in Zagreb.
(Photo: Jim Cole / AP)
Using 420 pounds of human hair from Dartmouth students, faculty, staff, and other members of the Hanover community, artist Wenda Gu created a human-hair banner that hangs in the college’s Baker-Berry Library. It is a part of Gu’s “united nations” project that began in 1993.
The trimmings from 42,000 haircuts were sent to a studio in China, where they were dyed, glued, and shaped with twine to form the banner.
See, recycling hair is a great way to make eco-friendly products, and unless human evolution dramatically changes, hair will be around for us to use forever!