Canada has finally jumped on board the eco-train to (very slowly) remove single-use plastics from stores. It's a big step forward for all of us eco-warriors!
When it comes to hair accessories, just consider how many hair bands, ties and clips YOU have bought and lost over the past year... astonishing, isn't it?
Those millions (and millions!) of hair accessories sold are causing a lot of issues as they are not sustainably made, easily get lost (in between couch pillows, under the bed, under the washing machine...), are washed down in waterways (think road drains!), and don't decompose in landfills. The issue may seem tiny and insignificant, but I assure you it is not.
The issue of unsustainable hair accessories is as significant as that of single-use plastics and needs to be addressed. Let's dissect the reasons why it's a concerning matter:
FABRIC, Rubber, and... petroleum?
There are hundreds of videos and sites educating consumers on the disaster that most fabrics cause to the environment. It's a big issue that we don't typically think about when we buy our next blouse or pair of pants.
Consider these quick and surprising stats:
The production of textiles, for example, is estimated to release over 0.5 million tonnes of microfibers into the ocean every year.
It can take over 200 years for a piece of clothing to decompose in a landfill. Even during this process, textiles release methane gas and leach toxic chemicals and dyes into the groundwater.
Regular cotton is one of the worst culprits, as it's mass-produced and extremely wasteful: It is a water-intensive crop (it takes about 20,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of cotton = 1 t-shirt!), it accounts for 16% of all insecticides used in farming.
Polyester is the most commonly used fabric worldwide. It's synthetic, and made from petrochemical-derived products and is not biodegradable.
Nylon is another synthetic fabric, representing 5% of all global fibre production. This one takes thousands of years to decompose in a landfill.
Bamboo is a semi-synthetic rayon fibre, and producing it also uses chemical-intensive processes that can be harmful to the environment and even to humans (like many fabrics). Now mind you, not all bamboo is created equal, and there are sustainable options.
Best alternatives include 100% organic cotton, linen, vegan leathers (like cactus and pineapple leather) and hemp fabrics.
Another material we don't often consider is the rubber that is used for our elastic bands and popular hair scrunchies.
Consider this bit of info:
Synthetic rubber is made from petrochemical-sourced ingredients (crude oil) including isoprene, polychloroprene, butyl, and fluoroelastomer, to name a few. These chemical ingredients are non-renewable, non-biodegradable and release harmful chemicals into the environment.
Synthetic rubber often contains heavy metals, like lead, toluene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which have been associated with cancer and other illnesses at certain levels of exposure.
Synthetic rubber – from tires to rubber soles on shoes, can take anywhere from 50 - 2000 years to decompose in a landfill.