top of page

eco + SUSTAINABLE HAIR ACCESSORIES? changing the planet one elastic at a time.

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?


Fabric

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.


Rubber

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.

  • 70% of rubber used in manufacturing today is synthetic.

Best alternative is natural rubber, which is made from the latex sap of rubber trees (Ficus elastica and Hevea brasiliensis, with over 1100 species).


Greenwashing

Many fashion industry giants have been called out for greenwashing, or deceptively marketing their organization's products as "green" or eco-friendly/using environmentally friendly processes. It is no different with hair accessories. Sometimes just the perception that something is eco or green can be achieved by the simple use of a green logo with green leaves – It's all part of the psychology of marketing – so buyer beware!



We have researched various manufacturers' products and have seen first-hand their greenwashing marketing.


One large hair accessory brand, in particular, has labelled their products as "made from environmentally friendly bamboo". They also claim their elastic bands are made from Ocean Bound Plastic (OBP), which basically means they have used any plastic material that may have otherwise had a risk of entering our oceans (which ALL plastic pretty much has!) and often referred to as "any plastic within 50km of a coastline or main waterway". What the consumer sees is a green and kraft-paper labelled hair accessory, and buys it without a second thought. (You can learn more about the OBP controversy [HERE]).


What can we do?

As consumers, we have a responsibility to purchase with careful consideration. You would be a much wiser and more responsible consumer if you were to buy few-and-far-between hair accessories while ensuring they are fully sustainable than buying a whole pile of off-the-rack dollar store-type items only to throw them away or lose them the next day.


Is there value in spending more? It's not about the amount of money an item costs, but about its process – and especially about what happens to it once you lose or abandon this product. Yes, sometimes the process does cost more, like in the case of buying 100% organic cotton, as the crops are relatively smaller than regular cotton yet much more sustainable.


We see this process as similar to buying organic food, house paint that won't give off gases, or cloth diapers. There is a cost for everything, and there is always more value to buying a product that has been consciously made.


As you know, buying Canadian or US-made ANYTHING can also sometimes cost more at the store, but it's so worth it because it supports our own economy. So it's not always about the amount of money you spend for an item, but the amount of good that will come from it.


Here are some tips on how you can ensure the sustainability of a product:

  1. Take a photo of the item you're interested in buying. Front and back of the package.

  2. Contact the company directly and ask them questions: What is it made of? Where does it come from? How is it recyclabe/sustainable and what is the manufacturing process? If they're reputable, they will reply promptly.

  3. Search the company up online – when a company is truly proud of the manufacturing process and traceability of the ingredients/materials used, they will go into detail to explain this on their website.

  4. Not sure? Ask, research, "Google it", and look for reputable sources of information – just like you would do for a product you would eat or put on your skin/hair.

Making sure all our haircare products are sustainably sourced has certainly not been an easy process. We have had to research every single ingredient that goes into them – where they come from, how they are made, what will happen when they are flushed down the drain, and even how they should be packaged.


It IS possible and there are companies out there that are working hard to think of every step of the process. Find your reputable sources and think of Mother Earth, because some things are more important than the immediate satisfaction of buying a new bling-bling something!


SUSTAINABLE OPTION: KOOSHOO!

Our search for more sustainable and eco-friendly hair accessories led us to connect with the makers of Kooshoo hair accessories. Based in Victoria, British Columbia, Kooshoo founders Rachel and Jesse learned first-hand about conscious consumerism, zero waste and plastic-free movements, and set out to create a sustainable line of hair accessories that would have a big impact. Kooshoo means "feeling good" in Tahitian – Rachel's homeland.


Kooshoo products are made of 100% organic cotton and natural tree rubber purchased from a fair trade rubber plantation in southern India. Only non-toxic dyes that are OEKO-TEX certified are used, and the whole process of manufacturing through to shipping and natural disposal is followed. We love that, and respect the Kooshoo team for their values and sustainability efforts since they match ours – and that's true synergy!


If you're looking for hair accessories with value, we suggest taking a look at our shop [HERE]. It's the smallest of acts that can make a difference, and sometimes all it takes is a hair elastic to make the world of difference.


What do you think? Did you ever consider how your hair accessories are made?

We'd love your comments!


- - - -


Bình luận


bottom of page