The Environmental Benefits of Human Hair
Many environmental agencies focus on reusing surplus materials, those often considered waste, whether they are natural or manmade. You may be surprised, but human hair is a natural resource that can provide many environmentally friendly purposes. There are now companies and non-profit organizations selling and using human hair mats for gardening and cleaning up oil spills.
How It All Started
While watching the effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, hairdresser Phil McCrory was struck by otters shown who covered in oil while the water around them was clean. McCrory realized that hair collects oil, which is why we use shampoo to wash the oil out of our hair (water alone won’t do it). After that, he began making hair mats for gardeners to use.
Hair is a natural resource of which there is a huge surplus of. In the United States alone, there are around 300,000 hair salons. Each salon produces a pound of hair each day, so it is out there and available for use.
Hair Mats for Gardening
Hair mats are wonderful for gardeners, offering a ton of environmentally friendly benefits. The mats slow down evaporation, so gardeners can reduce their water use to half the amount they would use without the mats. The hair naturally keeps weeds down, so there is no need for herbicides in the garden. Fertilizer isn’t necessary either because hair naturally releases nitrogen, which promotes growth in plants.
Not only is it good for the environment, but hair also costs gardeners less money.
Hair Mats for Oil Spills
Hair soaks up oil, so using hair mats in areas where there have been oil spills really helps clean up the mess. Shorelines can be cleaned up using these hair mats. Imagine how oily your hair gets after not washing it for a couple of days—it basically soaks up and absorbs oil, and the oil won’t come out until you wash it with shampoo. This means that you can use hair mats in bodies of water to soak up the oil. This is beneficial for the environment, cleaning up the harmful oil, but also helps water animals and plants who are affected by oil spills.
Hair mats are slowly gaining recognition for their many environmental uses around the world. They are currently produced more in China, but slowly gaining popularity in the United States.