Yes, Recycling hair! I couldn't believe my eyes. What a fantastic natural resource that every single person, yes even including my very bald father, has to recycle. I signed up for the Earth911.com newsletter a few months ago and it has been an absolute treasure trove of information for this blog! I recently came upon an article entitled "I Didn't Know That Was Recyclable" and on the list was hair. I was pretty sure I was going to come across the same old line of hair donation, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was actually hair recycling!
In 2000 an ingenious hair stylist named Phil McCrory was watching film coverage of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and notice the oil that stubbornly saturated the fur of the otters he thought of the huge amounts of human hair that is collected in salons and started testing the amount of oil he could soak up with the hair from his salon. According to the article at Earth911.com "McCrory invented the hairmat to help soak up oil from an estimated 706 million gallons of oil that enter our oceans each year. There are more than 370,000 hair salons in the U.S., and each collects about 1 pound of hair per day. That represents a tremendous amount of landfill matter from something we probably never even thought about!".
With this great invention, was the birth of a great public charity called Matter of Trust that accepts hair clippings and turns them into the hair mats that are used to clean up the oil spills. The group is doing all sorts of research with hair and fiber and it's uses and what a wonderful natural resource it is. If you have a minute check out the website, it was very interesting and gave me some really great ideas for my llama wool as well. Keep the link handy, and next time you get your hair done, pass it along to your hair dresser and they can sign up and send the hair in a shampoo box that they would probably like to get rid of anyway!
Now, I do not mean to minimize donating hair, it is just up until now, I thought that was the only way to "use" your natural resource that grew on top of your head, or unless like my Dad only on the sides of your head. Boy, he's really taking abuse on this one isn't he? Anywho, back to the subject of hair donation. This actually is something I very firmly believe in. The first time I donated was when my aunt in Iowa got breast cancer. I could not be there, so I felt the best way to support her was to cut my hair when she lost hers. I donated it in her name. I must say I was a tad disappointed in the impersonal postcard that she received from Locks of Love.
The next experience we had was when my Grandma was first diagnosed with cancer, my decision to cut my hair was still fresh in the mind of my very young daughter at the time, but she decided that she wanted to cut her hair for "GG". The timing still amazes me to this day. We had been waiting for Isabella's hair to reach the proper length and for me to be okay with losing her beautiful blond locks when one morning I awoke and knew that the day had come. My friend Della had just finished cutting her hair when my cell phone rang, I answered to my Grandma sobbing. See, she had been a hairdresser for her entire life, so to have woken up that morning to clumps of hair on her pillow was more than she could bear. The day that Bella donated her hair in GG's name was the day that I had to shave GG's head.
I have donated my hair one more time since then, but again, have been a bit disappointed in the simple, impersonal postcards we have gotten in response to the very personal gifts we have given. I know that sounds kind of funny, but when I sent in Isabella's ponytail, I put on the form her age and the reason she had donated her hair, and again, just the regular postcard. I did save it for her baby book and of course will make a big deal out of it on the page if I ever get around to updating the book, but it was just a matter of principle.
The great news is that when I googled hair donation in doing my homework for this post, there have been many new companies that have gotten into the business of hair donation in the years since we have done it. So whether your hair is long or short, whether you want to donate or recycle, don't forget, you have a wonderful natural resource growing right on top of your head (yes, even you Dad-love you!!!)!