Your next haircut could change someone’s life.
By this point, I think we all consider ourselves relatively well-versed in sustainability. Fast fashion? I would never! Compostable toothbrush and Keep Cup? Of course! Spending hours researching the ethics and supply chain of a brand before buying from it (or just letting EME do it for you)? Absolutely! But have you ever thought about recycling your hair? ...Umm!?
Image via Bob Melbourne.
Words by Emily Seerup.
By this point, I think we all consider ourselves relatively well-versed in sustainability. Fast fashion? I would never! Compostable toothbrush and Keep Cup? Of course! Spending hours researching the ethics and supply chain of a brand before buying from it (or just letting EME do it for you)? Absolutely! But have you ever thought about recycling your hair? …Umm!?
Left to its own devices, hair can take anywhere from months to years to decompose, depending on the environment it’s left in.
If you get your haircut at a salon affiliated with Australian resource repurposing company Sustainable Salons, the hair from the floor will be swept up and sent off to become a hair boom—a stocking like object filled with hair that soaks up oil spills. That’s pretty cool, but if you’re having a transformational chop rather than a trim, why not give your hair an entirely new life?
Millions of adults and children around the world are affected by conditions that cause permanent hair loss such as alopecia, and temporary loss from undergoing chemotherapy and cancer treatments. Hair is a huge part of your sense of self and confidence, and hair loss can dramatically impact your self esteem.
Alopecia areata is an incurable autoimmune disease that affects roughly 1-2% of the Australian population in some way. It comes in various forms; loss of patches of hair on the scalp, total hair loss on the scalp, and universal hair loss all over the body. Hair loss from chemotherapy usually starts two to three weeks after the first treatment and can take 4-12 months to grow back completely.
Whilst some people embrace the hair loss and live their best bald lives, others mourn their hair and turn to wigs as a solution. Realistic wigs made from human hair can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Unless you’re Moira Rose of Schitt’s Creek that’s a massive financial burden, especially for someone already struggling with major health issues. That’s why charities like Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation (AAAF) and Variety the Children’s Charity are working to bridge the gap, donating wigs to people who need them.
This is where you come in.
Charities rely on high-quality hair donated from cut ponytails to craft their wigs. It takes twenty donated ponytails to make just one wig, and at least 4000 ponytails are needed each year. That’s a lot of donations (or broke-up-with-my-boyfriend-and-got-a-bob emotional haircuts).
Sustainable Salons work with both the AAAF and Variety, so if you get your haircut with an affiliated salon (you can use their salon locator), the hairstylist can send your hair directly to be made into a wig for someone in need. Thinking of donating? Grow your hair as long as you can. 36cm or longer is preferable, but they also accept hair from 20cm and up, measured from the elastic. Uncoloured is best.
So if elongated isolation has left you with locks like Rapunzel, put down the kitchen scissors and wait another month or two to book into the salon and get a haircut that makes a difference—not only to your selfie game, but to someone in need.