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Harnessing the power of human hair: Revolutionizing soil conditioners and oil spill cleanup


Global Goals & Global Society
Harnessing the power of human hair: Revolutionizing soil conditioners and oil spill cleanup


Human hair, once seen as waste destined for landfills, is now finding new purpose as a transformative resource. Soilz Alive, a business founded by Jackie Yong, has pioneered the use of human hair as a soil conditioner, harnessing its nutrient-rich properties to enhance soil quality. Additionally, hair's exceptional ability to absorb oil has led to its application in oil spill cleanup efforts. This innovative approach not only reduces waste and supports sustainable practices but also aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the vision of a global society committed to environmental stewardship and resource conservation.


The concept of using human hair for soil conditioning emerged from Yong's background as a hairdresser. Recognizing the immense potential of hair as a natural fertilizer, she delved into research and experimentation, eventually creating Soilz Alive. Hair contains high levels of nitrogen, making it an excellent source of nutrients for soil. When broken down by microbes, the hair releases these valuable nutrients, enriching the soil and promoting plant health.


Hair's suitability as a soil conditioner has been confirmed by scientific studies. Research conducted by the American Society for Horticultural Science demonstrated that when combined with compost material, human hair serves as an additional nutrient source for crops. The University of Northampton's study further supported the use of hair in compost, highlighting its contributions of protein, carbon, and nitrogen. Collaborating with a soil biologist, Yong refined the hair-based soil conditioner, maximizing its effectiveness and ensuring its compatibility with various plant species.


To collect the required amount of hair, Sustainable Salons, a social enterprise in Australia and New Zealand, gathers hair waste from beauty salons. This partnership prevents hair from ending up in landfills, diverting a significant amount of waste. To facilitate the breakdown of hair in soil, Sustainable Salons employs a specialized processing technique. The hair is ground and pulverized to release its nutrients effectively. This processed hair is then provided to businesses like Soilz Alive, who incorporate it into their soil conditioner products.


The impact of utilizing human hair in soil conditioners extends beyond enhancing soil quality. It presents an opportunity to reduce reliance on synthetic fertilizers, which have detrimental environmental effects. Synthetic fertilizers contribute to soil degradation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. By embracing hair as a sustainable alternative, we can promote more eco-friendly agricultural practices and preserve the health of our ecosystems.

Furthermore, the repurposing of human hair for oil spill cleanup is an exciting development in environmental remediation. Hair's natural ability to absorb oil makes it an ideal material for containing and cleaning up oil spills. Sustainable Salons has been at the forefront of this innovation, using hair to create booms that effectively trap oil on the water's surface. This application not only facilitates the cleanup process but also reduces the environmental impact of oil spills, mitigating harm to aquatic ecosystems and supporting marine biodiversity.


By adopting the use of human hair in soil conditioners and oil spill cleanup, we can address multiple SDGs. The initiative contributes to Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production by reducing waste and promoting sustainable resource management. It also aligns with Goal 15: Life on Land by nurturing soil health and biodiversity. Furthermore, by reducing the importation of synthetic fertilizers and promoting natural alternatives, the use of hair supports Goal 13: Climate Action.


In addition to its environmental benefits, the utilization of human hair in soil conditioners and oil spill cleanup has the potential to foster social and economic sustainability. By partnering with beauty salons and social enterprises, this approach generates employment opportunities and supports local communities. Moreover, the availability of affordable, eco-friendly soil conditioners can enhance food security and empower small-scale farmers, contributing to Goal 2: Zero Hunger and Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.


Soilz Alive's pioneering use of human hair as a soil conditioner and oil spill cleanup material represents a remarkable breakthrough in sustainable practices. By repurposing hair that would have otherwise been wasted, this innovation aligns with the SDGs and contributes to the vision of a global society committed to environmental stewardship, resource conservation, and social empowerment. Through such transformative initiatives, we can create a more sustainable and resilient future for generations to come.



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