Thursday, 17 April 2008

Talking rubbish at the hair salon!

I went along to my local salon for my regular hair cut yesterday. I was in desperate need, especially since my fringe made its impromptu appearance on national news a few weeks ago.

While I was there Lize, my wonderful stylist, brought up the subject of what happens to all the hair that gets cut at salons. I'd never thought about it before, but pricked up my ears with interest.

The hair collected by the salon actually gets sent to landfill. There's no surprise there as I had never considered any other use. Of course there is the option of collecting longer hair for use in wigs, but having done a quick search this morning I have discovered a few other interesting applications.

There's an interesting article on the Associated Content site, which reveals that human hair, along with animal hair\fur can actually be composted. Somehow I can't imagine the salon getting a composter for their levels of hair collection, but in small amounts (e.g if you have your hair cut at home), there seems to be no harm in putting it in your compost bin.

There are some other unexpected applications also, including stuffing pin cushions or using it as a deterrent to keep pests out of the garden. On this subject Lize related a story from her training days (which was a while ago), where a farmer used to collect hair from her old salon and used it to deter muntjac deer from his farm. Apparently, barber shops are the best source as the hair is not normally washed and retains the human scent. The things you learn eh!

Perhaps the most unusual use I've discovered this morning is the chair that was made from human hair last year. I came across it on the Y-Waste site. The chair designed by Robert Thompson is made from 100% human hair mixed with polymer matrix. The designer is now working with London South Bank University to develop the bio-polymer known as Pilius X, which mixed with bio-resins could be used in a range of applications including architecture, furniture and clothing.

Here's a short video, which highlights the process. Enjoy!

A visit to the hair salon will never be the same again. Perhaps I should have brought my trimmings home to put to good use. I quite fancy a new table for the garden. However, I think the composting option is the most practical for now.



TicklyToes said...

I cut my own hair & that of my three children. The hair mostly gets composted - and seems to disappear at the same rate as everything else we compost. In nesting season, we sometimes hang clumps of hair in net bags in the garden for birds to use as nesting material - it never hangs around long, so some birds must have a use for it!
Not sure I fancy a chair made out of human hair though lol

kethry said...

like ticklytoes, i collect both my own (very long) hair and the dog's hair all year and in spring, hang it out for the birds to use for their nests.. must put the last year's out there actually :)

i think that there might be a bit too much hair for hairdressers to do something similar although.. i wonder.. would zoos perhaps be interested for their birds?


Ruby in Bury said...

Any handy tips for what I can do with Mr Ruby's toenail clippings? ROFL!


Hi Ticklytoes - it's amazing that having composted for about ten years I'd never thought about composting hair. Great tips about the birds. I know what you mean about the chair, I think I'd have to commission one using my own hair rather than someone else's. Did you know the Victorians made jewellery with hair? There used to be a fine display at Nottingham Castle.

Hi Keth - Thanks for joining in with the ideas. What a great idea for birds, especially in urban areas where there might not be many other resources for them to use for nesting. I now wonder what Zoos use. If there's a zoo keeper looking in let us know.

Hi Ruby - Mr Ruby's nail clippings. LOL...My best top tip is to bung them in the compost bin :-D How's your Rubbish Diet coming on by the way?

Anonymous said...

Remembering back when I was in barbering school, we collected the hair to be sent somewhere to be put into something much like a pantyhose and then it was used to collect oil from the water in case of an oil spill. We all know how much oil hair can soak up and the best part is that it can be washed and used again.


Hi anonymous - that's amazing. I had read about hair being used for mopping up oil before, but had not thought more about the real practicalities. Thanks for popping by.

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