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Hair recycling partnership shaving environment while tackling blood cancer

Social enterprise Sustainable Salons is once again throwing its support behind the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave by recycling hundreds of kilograms of hair to be donated for wigs and environmental hair booms thanks to Australia’s brave shavers.

For the second year running, Sustainable Salons are uniting with the 20,000 Australians taking part in the much-loved campaign to help beat blood cancers like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma by collecting hair through hundreds of salons and events nationwide.

Ponytails from hair longer than 20 centimetres will be collected up to be made into wigs for people who’ve lost their hair due to cancer treatment, with this year’s campaign anticipated to collect enough hair to make around 250 wigs.

Shorter hair will be entirely repurposed, with hair clippings gathered and stuffed into sausage-like stockings to create floating hair booms deployed to clean up oil spills along Australia’s coastline.

Research is now underway to test the environmental and commercial viability of the hair booms, with results finding the hair-based booms have a higher capacity and efficiency for oil absorption than booms made from other materials, with their reusability and potential to be composted also making them a more sustainable option. The findings have fueled hope for the boom to become a commercially-available product used for spills both at sea and on land.

More than 100,000 Australians are currently living with blood cancers and another 35 Australians are diagnosed every day. Sadly, an Australian will lose their life to the disease every 41 minutes.

The Leukaemia Foundation said the hair recycling initiative ensured all extraordinary Aussies who shave or cut their hair in participating salons were not only helping people affected by blood cancer, but also reducing our environmental impact.

“It’s incredible to think your hair could end up floating on the Great Barrier Reef blocking an oil spill or made into a wig to help those who haven’t lost their hair by choice,” a Leukaemia Foundation spokesperson said.

“It’s a win for Aussies and a win for the environment!”

Sustainable Salons Australia Co-Founder Paul Frasca said: “Hair is such a powerful resource. Not only does it have amazing repurposing opportunities, but it’s unlimited! In a world where our natural resources are in steady decline, why are we dumping this valuable commodity in landfill?

“We’re on a mission to reverse this, and that’s why we’re hugely excited to be partnering with World’s Greatest Shave,” he said.

Sustainable Salons will be collecting hair through public shave events and through their hundreds of member salons throughout Australia, as well as welcoming individual shavers to mail-in their ponytails for repurposing. Empty cans of coloured hairspray used in Sustainable Salons hair salons will also be diverted away from landfill and back into recycled resources.

Hairdressers from the Sustainable Salons network will also be jumping behind the cause outside the salon by volunteering to snip, shave and spray at World’s Greatest Shave events happening in capital cities, collecting hair for donation as they go.

More than 56kg of hair was collected through Sustainable Salons’ partnership with World’s Greatest Shave during last year’s event, and a total 4500 ponytails of hair have been donated through the hair recycling initiative in the past year.

Sustainable Salons ANZ is a comprehensive resource recovery service that collects up to 95% of waste from hair salons, including hair, metals and chemicals. It is Australia’s number one collector and donor of ponytails for wigs, and all recycling proceeds are donated to charitable organisations.

For more information on World’s Greatest Shave, or to sign up to shave or sponsor visit or phone 1800 500 088 today.

Last updated on January 3rd, 2023

Developed by the Leukaemia Foundation in consultation with people living with a blood cancer, Leukaemia Foundation support staff, haematology nursing staff and/or Australian clinical haematologists. This content is provided for information purposes only and we urge you to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis, treatment and answers to your medical questions, including the suitability of a particular therapy, service, product or treatment in your circumstances. The Leukaemia Foundation shall not bear any liability for any person relying on the materials contained on this website.