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I donated my ponytail to a great cause and so can you

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Think the only good you can do with your hair is to shave it all off for fundraising? Think again.

When you’re feeling helpless—like say, during a pandemic—you crave a bit of control.

It’s something we’re all lacking at the moment. Things out of my control include that my six-month backpacking trip around Europe has been put on infinite hiatus. Thanks, 2020.

But there are some things still within our control—and our hair is one of them.

Now hear me out—this isn’t just about the lifechanging magic of a great haircut (well, it’s a bit about that) or about taking nail scissors to your fringe at home (please don’t). This is about the uplifting power of donating your hair to a great cause.

I started growing my hair out a couple of years ago. Fast forward to 2020 and I was planning to have it chopped before my big trip.

Now my trip was off and suddenly I couldn’t stand it—every time I looked in the mirror I was reminded that I wasn’t going anywhere in 2020. I wanted to it gone and I wanted it gone now.

But leaving years of investment on the (literal) cutting room floor? It felt a bit wasteful. I wondered if the only way to donate using your hair was to shave it. Turns out it’s not.

Founded in 2015, Sustainable Salons reduces the waste produced by hair salons by collecting recyclables, turning hair trimmings into materials to catch oil spills and even recycling excess chemicals. Thanks to their hundreds of partner salons across Australia, they estimate that 125,000kgs of metal has been diverted from landfill and 89,900kgs of plastic has been recycled and kept in circulation in the last five years alone.

But that’s not all they recycle. Sustainable Salons also runs a program called Donate Your Ponytail where ponytails measuring over 20cm can be plaited, snipped and shipped to Sustainable Salons, who then donates them to charities like Variety the Children’s Charity and the Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation, as well as to private wigmakers who work with approved charities.

An estimated 43,700 ponytails have been donated through Sustainable Salons—they’re the largest donor of ponytails in the southern hemisphere—and it’s a great way to pay forward the love and time you put into your locks.

Sustainable Salons has 25 partner salons in Canberra alone, and I was delighted to find out that one of them is longtime HerCanberra favourite Lexi Bannister Hair in Manuka, which is still open and operating, with strict COVID-19 safety guidelines in place.

Fast forward to last week and I’m sitting in a chair as hairstylist Amanda Green carefully braids, ties and then snips more than 20cm from my hair. A few hours later and Amanda has crafted me a chic bob and Lexi has lifted the colour to a mid-90s Kim Cattrall. I feel…lighter (yes, there’s the life-changing magic bit).

Is it a six month holiday? No. Does it make me feel like a new woman and chuffed about my donation? Yes.

So, if you’re feeling ready for a change and have 20cm+ of hair to lose, why not check out Donate Your Ponytail?

After all, they say a change is as good as a holiday.

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