Zero Waste Hair- Is it Possible?

Zero Waste is a movement that is sweeping the nation. The concept being that recycling takes too long, and that we need to severely cut down on the amount of waste we produce. Many of the commandments of zero waste include buying things unpackaged in bulk, as well as bringing your own container to groceries stores/restaurants and many other things. The list is endless, and the possibilities too. And so the question is, can we make hair zero waste?

To a certain extent- yes. You can make your own shampoo, and use only natural ingredients and put it in reusable containers. You can even carry that as far as your styling products as well. This is an option for some people but not everyone, keeping mind textures and needs for hair are different head to head.  I’ve had several clients who use only coconut oil to condition their hair and it’s the softest hair you’ll touch, but I’ve also had clients try that particular method and their hair became uncontrollably frizzy for a month. Often times these homemade concoctions result in a layer of product over the hair giving the impression of improved texture that will wash out the next shampoo without effecting the overall health of the hair positively or negatively. On the other hand not everyone needs heavy products that will change or penetrate the inner layers of the hair. I would talk to your hairdresser about your options or look for products sold in reusable containers. 

Easy switches like pomade or wax can be found in metal tins, and when all the product has been used, simply wash out the container and reuse! I have several of my old Davines wax tins holding togo homemade deep conditioners I sometimes give clients after a large process. I even spruce it up and add a drop or two of lavender or tea tree oil when appropriate.

As a stylist, I don’t normally recommend natural home remedies for most of my clients. This is due to a couple of reasons. Many of the products you will find sold in a professional setting have strange chemical names and may be frightening, but they have them in there for a reason, and the products have been tested for their particular use (see my list of brands that don’t use animal testing). Words like ammonium lauryl sulfate are scary, but they are in that product for a reason, not for kicks and giggles. On top of that, there aren’t many women in particular that I know who have completely natural hair, and unfortunately when you chemically treat your hair with any kind of frequency, the quality of the hair will generally suffer- but it doesn’t have to with proper home care. Finding products in reusable containers or at the very least recyclable containers is the easiest way to handle balancing home care with reducing waste.

In regards to getting your hair done, again it’s pretty hard to avoid the waste, but there’s a lot that can be done to reduce it. Chemically derived colors will always come in plastic tubes/containers, however talking to your stylist and letting them know what you’re about and the zero waste movement could help them find ways to reduce their own waste. Such as drying and reusing the gloves that they’ll wear to color your hair. Talk to them about thick reusable gloves, it’ll actually be cheaper for them in the long run anyways as well. I had a client whose hair I lifted, and then used direct dyes to deposit some beautiful bright colors. While I couldn’t let her keep the bleach filled foils, I did let her keep the direct dye foils used, and a couple months later when she chose to redo her color herself, she reused those same foils!

For haircuts you can talk to your stylist about having the salon compost the hair waste. Many stylists who rent are responsible for taking out trash/emptying hair bins anyways, and it could be as simple as dumping the hair into the green bin. If your stylist for some reason or another can’t compost the hair, you can bring your own bag or jar to take your hair clippings and compost them yourself. Human hair is not only good for the compost, but will also repel deer, which is great for anyone living on a farm, or near a park or reserve as deer tend to wander onto surrounding properties and can make quite a muck of things. So you’ll not only get some nitrogen rich hair in your garden, you’ll keep a pest (albeit a beautiful one) away from your petunias, and be saving the world from more waste! 

On more creative solutions- there are some interesting homemade colors I’ve experimented with, including a creating a temporary color using conditioner and lipstick (post soon to come!). The other options include henna- however the catch with this option being, if you use henna, you can’t bleach or put ammonia based color on top of it. Unfortunately those chemicals do not mix, and will result in severe breakage. As this blogger found out the hard way. But aside from that, henna is a natural way to change the color of the hair, and is easier to find in less packaging. 

As far as more Zero Waste hair solutions go, has experience with homemade products, and I’m doing experiments myself to find out more ways to reduce waste in the salon! It’s hard constantly trying to battle the capitalist regime that has pushed easy to use, pre packaged products on us like hungry angry babies, but every little bit counts, and some of these options are as easy as just changing up what companies you support. Email your favorite hair product companies and let them know what you’d like to see- less waste!

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