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This Kerala couple prevents tonnes of hair waste clogging water bodies

Abdul Kareem and Balkees K along with their son Adelino Aleser T. Image Credit: Special Arrangement

A teacher couple in Kerala has taken up a remarkable initiative, preventing tonnes of human hair from being dumped in water bodies and landfills. Abdul Kareem and his wife, Balkees K of Tirurangadi in Malappuram, have embarked on a groundbreaking project that transforms hair waste into fertilisers and organic dyes. They have launched a startup, “Mycrowb,” which is making waves by addressing the environmental concerns associated with hair waste disposal.

“Hair salons and barber shops generate substantial amounts of hair waste daily, and often, this waste ends up in landfills or, even worse, in water bodies. The hair waste is collected by unprofessional agencies that just dump it as waste,” said Abdul Kareem, a PhD holder in material science who is currently working as a teacher at PSMO College, Tirurangadi. His wife, Balkees, is a lecturer in computer engineering at HHMJDT Islam Polytechnic College in Kozhikode.

“We launched the project after recognising the need for a more responsible and eco-friendly approach,” he said. Their startup collects the hair waste, which undergoes a meticulous process where it is cleaned and treated to produce amino acid and melanin. “Amino acid is a nitrogen-rich nutrient that is used as a fertiliser for farming. Compared to cow dung, hair waste contains 14 per cent nitrogen. It is a sustainable alternative to chemical-laden counterparts,” Abdul Kareem told “Open Digest“.

The couple has also launched a project to extract melanin from the hair waste. “We developed a method to extract melanin from hair waste. This can be used as an organic dye in various products. It not only reduces the environmental impact of conventional dye production but also provides a natural and chemical-free option for those seeking eco-conscious alternatives,” he said.

“We believe that every small effort counts in the larger picture of environmental conservation. Our goal is not only to repurpose hair waste but also to inspire a mindset shift towards responsible waste management,” said Abdul Kareem, whose son Adelino Aleser T was recently featured among the top 50 children for presenting innovative ideas in the National Children Innovation Challenge organised by Gujarat University Startup and Entrepreneurship Council (GUSEC) and UNICEF.

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