Friday, June 21, 2024

How does human hair contribute to the fight against climate change? A Dutch company responds


Did you know the similarities between woolen clothing and the human hair on top of a human head? In addition to their role in warming the body, they both contain keratin protein fibers, a startup Dutch company has introduced. A new innovation contributes to creating a more sustainable environment.

Human Material Loop hopes to revolutionize the fashion industry by turning human hair into fabric. The company has created prototypes of coats and jackets from human hair and hopes to attract more clothing companies to incorporate this innovative alternative material into their own designs.

Don’t waste it

According to CNN, salons in the U.S. and Canada produce 877 pounds of waste every minute, and when hair decomposes without oxygen — like garbage bags buried in landfills — it releases greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

According to the Human Materials Loop, 72 million kilograms of human hair waste ends up in European landfills every year, more than seven times the weight of the famous French Eiffel Tower.

Most countries resort to incineration of these wastes, especially in the absence of environmentally friendly alternative solutions that can be disseminated on a large scale.

According to the Dutch company, using hair weaving is no different than knitting a sweater with any other material, as short hair is twisted together, made into continuous strands, and then dyed with pure dyes.

Human Material Loop’s prototype was a jacket with a wool-like texture, and the company tested other prototypes, including a fur-stuffed outer coat to provide thermal insulation that it tried in extreme conditions during a trip to Aconcagua. Mountain in Argentina.

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These designs are not yet available for purchase. The goal is to provide raw materials for designers and other brands to work with, and the company says these innovative materials should rival wool once they reach higher production levels.

The company imports human hair from beauty salons in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, especially hair cuts or clippings, as there is no DNA that can identify an individual, and is working on creating a chain of documentation to trace the source of these products with the ultimate goal.

A growing industry

Historically, human hair has been used as a textile material in many cultures. For example, in Micronesia, the Kiribati tribe developed woven armor made from natural materials such as coconut fiber, shark teeth, palm fronds, and human hair in the 13th century. In the century, people in what is now known as Southwest America, socks were tied together with hair.

The Higashi Honkan Temple in Japan is one of the largest wooden structures in the world, and after it was destroyed in a fire, ropes made from human hair donated from all over Japan mixed with hemp fibers were used to rebuild the temple in the 19th century. .

But using hair as a textile is not without its challenges, explains Dutch materials researcher Sunny Visser. “There’s still some reluctance to use human hair as an ingredient,” Visser said. “We don’t see it as a resource.”

He emphasized that the adoption of human hair as a raw material in the industry requires a lot of effort and it is only a matter of time before hair starts to be used in various areas of daily life.

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Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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