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Ditching plastic, Rebundle makes hair extensions from banana fibers

Hair extensions are pretty magical, enabling people to drastically change their look in one visit to a salon. They're also a head full of single-use plastic (unless they're made of human hair, which comes with its own issues).

Synthetic hair extensions consist of fine strands of materials like nylon, polyester and acrylic that are removed and discarded every three to six months. Environmental impact isn't the only drawback to synthetic extensions; they can also irritate the wearer's scalp.

To create a less irritating and more sustainable alternative, St. Louis-based Rebundle is turning to plants instead of petrochemicals. Their first product, 'braid better', was launched last year and uses banana fiber as its core material. No plastics, and the extensions are biodegradable. Frequently running out of stock, the direct-to-consumer startup aims to ramp up production this year, with USD 1.4 million raised in a pre-seed round in January 2022.

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From mushroom leather sneakers to banana fiber hair extensions, every product can be reimagined with sustainability in mind. And those innovations are more likely to succeed if they solve an actual problem in addition to being green. In Rebundle's case, founder and CEO Ciara Imani May wanted hair extensions to be both more sustainable and less itchy. As venture capitalist Josh Wolfe puts it, ask yourself 'What sucks?' and design a superior alternative.