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The Environmental Benefits of Human Hair

Updated on March 13, 2008

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.


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    • profile image

      eureka94 7 years ago

      wow!that's wonderful!I'm conducting a research about benifits from human hair, and it helps a lot...

    • profile image

      J.P.Pande 7 years ago

      Today I was getting a hair cut. The barber was throwing the clippings and got curious. Well here I got some inspiration to use them. Thanx.

    • profile image

      stylist 7 years ago

      i find that very interesting cause i am a hairstylist. i have been one for 18 years and did not know that hair could be used for that reason.we throw away lots of hair every week and in the past i have wondered myself if there were any uses for the hair. i have always been told that it was good to put in the garden.

    • Uva profile image

      Uva Be Dolezal 8 years ago from Washington State, searching for home town.

      Good to know, I was wondering about if hair from the bathroom can be composted. It sure seems that if there isn't a lot of soap gunk in it that into the compost is a good idea.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      Wow this just sounds gross. Ha

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thats is awesome news I work in the textile area, I always wanted to make a nonwoven mat with fibers locked by itself. Glad to see there are many uses for it. If you know where they sell them please add it, will be nice to check it out for gardening.

    • sdorrian profile image

      sdorrian 9 years ago from Chicago

      Fascinating! Who knew there were so many uses for hair? I though it was mostly good for clogging my shower drain. LOL