A chain in Sydney, Australia, has created a genius way to use their customers’ leftover hair to help the environment and it is taking the world by storm.
Most discarded split ends are swiftly swept from the floor of the hairdressers and thrown out along with the general waste,
While most split ends are swept up and thrown out, the Grand Royal Barbers (with locations in Australia) is setting the bar when it comes to sustainable hairdressing.
Staff collect the old hair and donate it all to create stuffed stockings — all of which are used to help soak up oil during oil spills.
The technique has surfaced after extensive research at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) — the discovery revolutionizing the clean-up process.
Grand Royal Barbers is the very first sustainable independent barbers in Australia. The owner, Maria Dillon, said she was able to support the process, as she wanted future generations to have a world they could live in.
When speaking with Yahoo! News Australia, she shared:
“There’s so much plastic in this world with plastic islands everywhere in the ocean. They’ve been polluted enough and I just want it to be around for my children.”
The barber shop collects in total around seven bin-fulls of hair a week before it is collected by Sustainable Salons — a company that is dedicated to reducing waste in salons all over Australia.
Customers pay $2 to cover the cost of the operation despite Dillon initially being worried about how customers would react to the cost.
Thankfully, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
The owner went on to share:
“It’s been quite remarkable really, we never knew so many people were passionate about being sustainable,” adding, “we want to leave a legacy.”
The original idea of using hair to help soak up oil was highlighted following research from UTS’ Dr. Megan Murray from the School of Life Sciences, and then masters student, Rebecca Pagnucco in 2017.
Pagnucco shares how the process works; explaining:
“Hair is a natural biosorbent. It’s been shown to adsorb three to nine times its weight in oil. Your hair gets oily and greasy – the oil basically is stuck to the hair fibres. By a similar method, it would stick to other oils, such as crude oil.”
And as people are becoming more aware of the products being used on the environment, hair gives an ideal, natural alternative to traditional dispersants used to tackle oil spills.
Pagnucco continues, sharing:
“With something like hair, there’s no value in it once you’ve cut it off your head, it’s waste. Hair can also be reused several times without a significant decrease in its ability to adsorb oil.”
And in addition to re-using the hair, Grand Royal Barbers makes an effort to recycle all plastic bottles as well as razors along with the foil used in hair dying.
Dillon has been made aware of dozens of barbers as well as salons running with the idea after his success.