Home » Don’t waste a hair (responsible hairdressing startups)

Don’t waste a hair (responsible hairdressing startups)

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Don’t waste a hair (responsible hairdressing startups)

Where does the hair that is cut by the barber or hairdresser end up? It’s easy: on the ground; then they are swept, collected and thrown in the garbage. In the United States and Canada alone, 32 tons of hair are thrown away every day. That’s about 400 kilos per minute. The total for European Union countries is even higher. It’s always been this way and it could be this way forever. But also not. In 2021 in the Netherlands, a group of young entrepreneurs and environmentalists led by Zsofia Kollar thought that all that hair in landfill or incinerators was a problem and a waste: a waste of materials, above all keratin, the protein that is in the hair. And she founded a startup, Human Material Loop, with the task of recycling cut hair: making more of it. Various experiments are starting to take place around the world to prevent cut hair from just being thrown away: a French startup makes fertilizer out of it; another in San Francisco reuses them to make tools that can absorb oil at sea when there is a leak; and in India there are those who break them down to obtain essential amino acids with which to make beauty products; finally, it has recently been discovered that the structure of hair, its elasticity and resistance, make it perfect for building construction to reinforce constructions.

In short, the Dutch startup is part of a global movement, the peculiarity of which is the use it proposes to make of our cut hair: clothes, or rather, fabrics for clothes. Here too: it is known that the textile industry has a very high carbon footprint, using cut hair as a material could reduce it significantly. Zsofia Kollar says she has found a way to turn cut hair, of any length and color, into a fabric that resembles wool. It’s not about wearing a sweater that looks like a wig, but a sweater that looks like wool or cotton but is actually made of cut hair. For this industry to take off, however, there is a need to collect a lot of hair: for this reason, a network of hairdressers has been created in Belgium that aims to do this. Environmentalist hairdressers. And in Italy who comes forward?

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