Are your Plastic-Free Hair Ties and Scrunchies Compostable?
This is one of the most common questions we get and it's a great one. We always love hearing from customers asking for accountability from their brands. Ultimately, that accountability is what will change this industry.
As for the question, we've done our best to answer it below but as you'll see, it's not a perfect answer - yet.
The short answer is: by industrial composting standards, no, our products are not compostable. This is because industrial composting (i.e. city composting) requires products to fully compost in 3 months to qualify as compostable.
Our Hair Ties and Scrunchies are made of just 2 materials: organic cotton and natural tree rubber. Organic cotton makes up 70+% of the product, while natural rubber makes up the rest. While both are biodegradable materials, their time to decomposition is pretty different.
In a composting environment, the organic cotton portion should fully biodegrade in well under a year, depending on conditions. We are 6 months in on a trial in our home garden and all organic cotton for us has fully composted (no cotton remains). We'll be posting a full blog on that trial shortly.
The natural rubber we use is harvested from sustainably harvested rubber trees and then brought to a very high heat in which it undergoes a molecular transformation which allows the rubber to become stronger. For natural rubber to be used as a product in any commercial use, it must undergo this process. The tradeoff of making it stronger is that it takes longer to return to earth.
From all the research we've read, our rubber will take anywhere from 2 to 10 years to fully biodegrade. While this is a lot longer than the organic cotton, it's still much better than the hundreds of years synthetic rubber will take to break down and even then, micro plastics will remain.
All that to say, composting our products depends on how you're using the compost and how long you have to wait. We have a lot of customers that cut their elastics into very small pieces, thus increasing the surface area of the rubber to speed the breakdown, and then burying them in their home gardens. If this isn't an option for you then at this stage they likely have to go in with regular waste. Before that though, we always recommend trying to repurpose them as household elastics, ties for plant stakes, elastics for electronic cords and more.
We have received some wonderful grants from the government of Canada (we're a Canadian business) that we're putting towards R&D to develop a better solution. That's absolutely our aim as an organization though we're proud to make the greenest, most ethical hair accessories in the world in the meantime.
Our Twist Headbands are made from 92% organic cotton and 8% spandex. Due to the spandex portion, the Twist Headbands are neither compostable nor biodegradable. No biodegradable alternative to spandex exists yet but when it does, we’ll be first in line.
Can I compost my Hair Ties or Scrunchies in my city bins?
Because the natural rubber takes longer to disappear, our Hair Ties cannot be disposed of in city compost bins (everything in their bins must compost within a year) so that leaves two options: home compost or landfill. Based on our estimates, the hair tie will fully break down in either case within a decade - with 70+% being gone within a matter of months in a composting environment (we've tested this). We always recommended repurposing your elastics for household use before disposal (they’re great at tidying unsightly wires).