How Many Plastic Hair Ties are Lost or Tossed Every Day?
How Big a Problem are Plastic Hair Ties for the Environment?
Did you see that hair tie on the sidewalk yesterday?
How about the one by your towel at the beach? Or the one just shy of the summit of your hike? The one down the path to the lake?
What about that one sitting perilously close to the storm grate on your way home?
The truth is: they're everywhere that humans go. That's because hair ties are one of the most ubiquitous products on earth - and also one of the most littered.
Airing the Dirty Laundry on Hair Ties
Hair ties have a dirty secret most have never stopped to contemplate. They're ALL made of plastic. At least they were until KOOSHOO came around.
Plastic ain't the most desirable material - who wants to wear plastic after all - so textile companies got smart early by using euphemisms like nylon, spandex, polyester, and so much more. Pants made from plastic-bottles anyone? That one may work but it's always seemed so odd to me! But at the end of day, no matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, it's still a pig.
And here's the thing about plastic: it's a brutal material for our planet.
- It doesn't go away. Ever. Well, at least in no lifetime of anyone you'll ever know. On average plastics take 400 years to break down, and even then micro plastics will persist. This means every hair tie (not made by us) you've ever owned still exists somewhere.
- Not only that, but according to the Ocean Plastics Lab "synthetic fabrics such as polyesters send millions of plastic fibres down our drains with each wash". Hair ties made from plastics are guilty here too.
- It's also a driver of climate change. According to a Yale study, "Today, about 4-8% of annual global oil consumption is associated with plastics, according to the World Economic Forum. If this reliance on plastics persists, plastics will account for 20% of oil consumption by 2050".
- It's devastating to animals of every ilk.
But the thing about plastic is it's cheap - and plentiful. And for that reason, hair tie companies flock to it.
In a game where selling as many hair ties as possible is the name of the game, two things matter above all else: they need to be cheap and they need constant replenishment. So yes, hair ties snapping is a feature, not a flaw.
So how many lost, tossed, and snapped hair ties are we talking about?
How Many Hair Ties are Lost or Tossed Every Year in the USA?
Let's do some group math.
There are 330 million people in America and 167.5 million of them are women. Let's say that conservatively, half of those women - plus all others with long hair - amount to approximately 84 million hair tie users.
The number is probably higher but we're going to err on the side of conservative with these calculations.
Now, thanks to the aforementioned race to the bottom in which hair tie companies have added more and more hair ties to a pack at cheaper and cheaper prices it's possible in America to buy 100 hair ties on a pack for $3.99, or less. Some people will buy 2, 3, 4, 10 of those packs a year; others may not buy any. But at the end of the day, let's average it out to 65 hair ties purchased per year by each of those 84 million hair tie wearers. That number may not reflect your purchasing habits but it's an average that includes all those super-users.
And we all know that what comes in, must eventually go out - whether by being lost, tossed, or "borrowed". In other words, 84 million hair tie wearers are conservatively moving through 65 hair ties a year, or a cumulative total of 5.46 billion hair ties per year. Put another way, that's just shy of 15 million (14,985,904 to be exact) hair ties per day that are being lost, tossed, or disappeared.
So yes, those little plastic hair loops that disappear might seem like no-biggie on an individual basis but combined, 15 million (likely more) of those plastic hair ties are being lost or tossed EVERY DAY in the USA alone.
With an average weight of 0.75g (0.02oz) per hair tie, 15 million plastic hair ties a day is the equivalent to 11,250kg (~ 25,000 pounds) of plastic waste daily just from hair ties.
That's the equivalent of a city bus in plastic daily. Or 10 Honda Civics, Or the Hubble Telescope (too obscure?).
Put another way, that's a LOT of plastic in just the USA simply due to hair ties. And this isn't a local problem; rather it extends to hair ties globally. Maybe that Hubble reference is apt after all.
Enter KOOSHOO - Makers of the World's First Plastic-Free Hair Ties
In 2010 we identified the problem and spent 2 years of dedicated R&D before introducing the world's first ever commercially-made hair ties made entirely out of plants.
That was a decade ago and while our products have come a long way since, our focus on making hair accessories from plants while uplifting every stakeholder involved - from farmers to textile workers to our customers - has never wavered. In a world awash with greenwashing and businesses cutting corners, we're incredibly proud of having never wavered from our original vision.
Ready to delve deeper on plastics? We've got you covered with these recent posts:
- Summer is Short. Plastic is Forever. Five easy swaps to start replacing plastic products in your life today.
- Sneaky Plastics in your Home Today. We know most of the usual suspects when it comes to plastic, but plastic can appear in products you'd never suspect. Here are 5 sneaky products made from plastic in your home today.
- Everything you Need to Know about our New Plastic-Free Rounds Hair Ties.