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I live with two very committed shedders. At certain times of the year, their output stuns. Even with consistent furminating (is this a verb yet?), I sweep soft, dirty tumbleweeds of fur onto my dustpan and out to the garbage regularly. And, until recently, I believed the highest and best use of their fur was to make sweeping more satisfying. But in the pursuit of shrinking their environmental pawprint, I’ve discovered a few ways to recycle their surplus.
Spin fur into yarn. Dog fur is a fiber, and like wool, mohair and angora, it can be spun into yarn. Longer fur is best, but even short fur can be spun if blended with wool. It’s an idea that’s been around for a while but never seems to entirely catch on (except maybe in Russia )—probably because of reports that when dog fur sweaters, mittens, scarves, etc., get wet, they smell a little like wet dogs. Check out these instructions .
Fight oil spills. We learned about the oil-absorbing magic of dog fur  during the Gulf Oil spill, when fur and human hair clippings were stuffed into booms and woven into mats to absorb the petroleum. Now, the folks at a Matter of Trust, the ecological public charity behind the hair/fur boom effort, wants to expand the use of these wasted materials for preventing toxic run-off, soil erosion and creating marina bilge pads. Learn more at a MatterofTrust.org .
Build nests. When you groom outside, don’t worry about small tufts carried away by the breeze. Many birds like to weave fur and hair into their nests.
Is there more we can do with all this leftover fur?
Photo by Chris Chang.