What Can You Do With Your Old Hair Extensions?

What Can You Do With Your Old Hair Extensions?

According to UK Research and Innovation, the UK generates about 6.7 million kilograms of waste human hair every year - the majority of which ends up in landfill. This includes old hair extensions. 

Whether you’re a hair extension client or specialist, you will encounter waste hair when the extensions are just no longer reusable. But what can you do with them, without just throwing them in the bin?

At North Professional Hair, we are proud to be making eco-friendly steps in our brand. All of our tape extension pots are fully reusable and recyclable, meaning that you can send them back to us to be used again, reuse them in your salon as display features (some people even put plants in them) or recycle them with your general paper and cardboard waste. 

We care a lot about the environment, and if we know about a way to reduce waste during your tape extension services, we want to let you know. And that’s why we’ve written this post!

In this article, you will learn why you shouldn’t throw away old extensions and different services you can use instead, which will make a real, positive impact on the environment. After reading, we guarantee you will feel inclined to make a difference and think consciously about your wasted extensions. 

Why shouldn’t you bin old hair extensions?

You shouldn’t just throw old hair extensions in the rubbish because you can do a lot of good things with them. If you just throw your, or your client’s, old hair extensions away, then they’re literally just going to waste. 

Keep reading as we discuss all the good you can do with your old hair extensions…


What types of extensions can you repurpose?

In the UK, you can only repurpose human hair extensions (along with any waste human hair from your salon floor). 

You can repurpose any method of human hair extensions, including tapes, wefts, microbeads/bonds and clip-ins - you just need to remove the part that attaches the extension to your natural hair. 

As for synthetic extensions, according to an article written for POPSUGAR, the UK lacks the machinery for breaking down and reusing any type of flame-retardant plastic polymers - of which are found in synthetic hair. However, if in doubt, you can take your old synthetic hair extensions to your local council’s household waste recycling centre. 


What happens to human hair that is thrown away?

Whilst this is disputed, we stand by that human hair is biodegradable - it will break down and decompose, just like any other natural/organic material - roughly taking 2 to 4 years to fully decompose. The rate of decomposition will depend on the type of hair, the chemicals it has been treated with and where it has been disposed to. 

However, according to research found by The Roundup, there are a lot of ways in which generally disposing of human hair can be dangerous to the environment. 

If disposed of incorrectly, human hair is known to clog drains and waterways, and, if disposed of in plastic bags, not only creates more waste but also can cause the hair to produce methane gas as it decomposes.

Because of these risks, we always recommend finding alternatives to disposing of your human hair waste, including old hair extensions. 

Donate human hair to Little Lady Locks 

One way in which you can dispose of your old human hair extensions is through a charity called Little Lady Locks

Little Lady Locks creates bespoke solutions for children under the age of 18 in the UK who are suffering from hair loss, free of charge. These include full wigs, half wigs and toppers, which are all created through donations of human hair. 

Little Lady Locks accepts donations of hair all year round, which includes donations of old human hair extensions. If you are interested in donating your old hair extensions, complete this form here

The guidelines for hair donations for Little Lady Locks are as follows:

  • Human hair over 7 inches/18 cm 
  • Any gender
  • Any age
  • Any ethnicity 
  • Grey hair
  • Coloured/highlighted/bleached hair
  • Curly hair (measuring 7 inches when curly)
  • Layered hair (ensure more bobbles are used to secure loose hair)

Would you like to get more involved with this amazing charity? 

At the bottom of the ‘Donate Hair’ page is a sponsorship form, so that you can put on an event or cut your hair to raise money for Little Lady Locks. 

Further down on the ‘Donate Hair’ page, you can also sign up as a ‘Hair Fairy’, meaning that your salon can help provide services for Little Lady Locks, such as fundraising, hair donation drop-offs, along with hair extension, hair replacement and hair cutting services. 

Dispose of human hair with Green Salon Collective 

If you’re a salon owner and have a lot of human hair waste, the best way to dispose of it is through the Green Salon Collective

Green Salon Collective work with salons across the country to help them safely dispose of and recycle different types of salon waste, including human hair. With the human hair they collect, they don’t just ‘throw it out’ - they do lots of good with it!

10 ways Green Salon Collective recycle human hair:

Green Salon Collective report 10 ways in which they recycle and repurpose waste human hair, so that it can do good and prevent it from ending up in landfill. 

1. Composting and Gardening

As human hair is rich in Nitrogen, Green Salon Collective donate the hair to commercial compost specialists, as it can be used as a plant, through composting. Read more on how they do that, here

2. Hair boom to clean oil spills 

Hair booms are long pieces of packed hair which can be used to absorb oil and pollutants, even in water. Green Salon Collective are the first manufacturer of hair booms in the UK and sell them to clean up oil spills and polluted rivers across the UK and Ireland. 

3. Hair mats to cover storm drains 

Hair mats are another product that Green Salon Collective are the first in the UK to manufacture. Hair mats are created by felting hair together in their unique machinery, which can then be used to cover storm drains or clean up waterways. 

4. Regenerative Bio-manufacturing

Working with Biohm, a London-based regenerative bio-manufacturer, Green Salon Collective uses hair being combined with Biohm’s unique binding material 'orb', to create particle board-like sheets and moulded 3D objects. Biohm also works with mycelium, the root structure of fungi, to grow around hair to create insulation panels. Learn more, here

5. Wool Alternatives

Green Salon Collective collaborated with Natural Fibre Co., a British woollen mill in Cornwall, to develop a hair-wool fibre alternative to petroleum or cotton-based yarns, ropes and twines. Their current blend is a 40:60 hair and wool blend using salon waste human hair and undervalued, destined-for-compost wool. Find out more, here

6. Hair Rope Making

Green Salon Collective has created a unique workshop with their research partner, Sanne Visser, Design Researcher in Residence at The Design Museum. This workshop invites people to explore hair rope making while inspiring them to rethink the concept of waste. Find out more about this workshop, here

7. Hair Felt

Green Salon Collective’s Head of R&D, Stephanie Hodgson, is currently experimenting to test the ability of 'potting felt' - a product for houseplants made from salon hair waste, to save water, deter pests, and release nitrogen into the soil.

8. Architecture

Collaborating with architecture and research firm, Pareid, Green Salon Collective are exploring the use of salon hair waste in architecture and building materials. All are interested in showcasing the presence of hair in final products and instalments, compelling people to consider the material not as waste, but as a natural resource. Find out how, here.

9. Wigs

Whilst Green Salon Collective is proud to use even the shortest of hair in their recycling projects, when the hair is long enough to create a wig, that is what they do. 

10. Art

Working with dressmakers and designers, Green Salon Collective are working to turn hair into dresses and clothes. In 2022, Green Salon Collective was featured in museums across the UK and Europe showcasing what can be done with hair.

How to get your salon involved with Green Salon Collective

Firstly, you need to start with a Starter Kit. Green Salon Collective markets their Hair and Metal Starter Kit at £225. This includes:

  • In-salon hair bin
  • In-salon metal bin
  • 1x Prepaid Returns Box (worth £175)
  • Window stickers (designs vary)
  • In-salon mirror stickers (designs vary)
  • Green Fee Reception Strut
  • 100% recycled bin bags (x5)
  • Compostable bin bags for hair (x5)
  • Listing on their Salon Locator

Green Salon Collective suggest charging your clients a ‘Green Fee’, which could be as little as £1 per client. 1 return box can fill up to 400 clients’ worth of waste hair, which will then cover the cost of your starter kit. 

Once your return box is full, schedule a collection with Green Salon Collective on a date on which they can come and collect it from you. 

Reduce hair waste, today!

You came to this article looking how to make more eco-friendly choices when it comes to the disposing of old hair extensions. 

Since reading, you have learnt that around 6.7 million kilograms of human hair becomes waste every year in the UK, and that that ends up in landfill can have a drastic effect on the environment. However, to combat this, you have learnt about two incredible organisations, Little Lady Locks and Green Salon Collective, which can use your waste human hair for good!

But what now?

At North, we’re committed to helping our customers make the best choices when it comes to their tape extension services, and one of those things is making better, less wasteful choices. 

Reuse and recycle old North pots 

Did you know that the pots North Professional Hair tape extensions come in are reusable and recyclable?

Many North customers find ways to reuse their extension pots before recycling them in their general paper and cardboard waste. Some customers use them to display and promote their North tape extension services, whereas others are more creative and use them for things such as eco plant pots! 

However, if you have a load of our cream North extension pots hanging around your salon, did you know that for every 10 pots you return to us to reuse, we will give you £10 credit towards your next order? Contact our customer service team at 0161 791 2726 for more information. 

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