Advocating for environmental sustainability can take many forms. One simple method is repurposing daily waste in ways that contribute to the eco-health of our surroundings. Among the various materials we often discard, hair is a potential treasure trove of nutrients. Why let it go to waste when it can be morphed into a potent fertilizer for your garden? This detailed guide will provide in-depth insight into the composting potential of hair.
All mammals, humans included, are endowed with an exceptional resource known as hair. Hair is a ubiquitous feature that decorates our bodies, with a few exceptions like the soles of our feet, lips, and the backs of our ears. Hair, a composition primarily of the protein keratin, continues to flourish throughout our lives.
Take a moment to ponder the surplus hair we accumulate after a trim. Suppose we harnessed this abundant resource and repurposed it as compost. Directing these resources towards composting promotes soil health and consciously impacts our environment.
At its core, compost is a concoction of organic materials that break down into nutrient-rich soil amendments. These decomposed components harbor valuable nutrients, optimizing water retention in sandy soils and aiding drainage in denser clay soils.
Creating compost involves layering green or moist ingredients, such as kitchen waste or freshly cut grass, with brown or dry ingredients like dried leaves or twigs. These components harmoniously break down, releasing carbon and nitrogen into your compost pile. It's here that hair prompts intrigue.
Compostable materials can come from unexpected sources, one of which is human and pet hair. Rich in nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and sulfur, hair performs a vital role as an efficient 'green' compost ingredient. Most importantly, the decomposition process can be enhanced if the hair is evenly distributed across the compost pile and not clumped together.
A recent study discovered that waste human hair accumulated from salons, when combined with compost, serves as a potent source of nutrients for plants. The process remains universal – pet hair offers the same benefit. By commingling the hair amongst other green ingredients, it begins to break down over time, providing these essential nutrients. Like other organic materials, decomposition is faster when we maintain proper heat and moisture levels within the compost pile and regularly aerate the contents by turning them over.
If composting isn’t quite your ideal route, leaving hair to naturally decompose in the soil is a feasible alternative. A careful observation reveals that discarded locks have higher nitrogen levels than manure, effectively serving as a fantastic replacement for conventional fertilizers and herbicides.
However, the decomposition rate of hair relies strongly on the local environment and microbial activity. Because hair contains keratin, which is resistant to proteolysis or protein decomposition, it generally takes longer to break down than other tissues. Yet, despite this extended decomposition timeline, hair still offers tremendous potential as an efficient soil amendment.
Surprising though it may seem, human hair makes an incredible fertilizer. Investigations have revealed that human hair surpasses manure in nitrogen content, providing a more sustainable replacement for traditional fertilizers and herbicides.
One caveat to note is that its unposted form won't break down in the soil rapidly. It could take upwards of two years to decompose completely if used directly as a fertilizer. However, that slow-release behaviour might serve as a benefit, infusing nutrients into the soil gradually and improving its quality. Moreover, the hair's structure may provide root support and enhance