Given the international proportions of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, hair stylists nationwide are responding to a call for human and pet hair clippings that, as few probably knew before this disaster, can be used to produce oil-absorbing mats and booms to limit the damage as much as possible.
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Frustrated about feeling so helpless, more and more hairdressing professionals are contacting Matter of Trust, a national ecological public charity that assists in oil spill cleanups, to find out how they can make their clippings count.
Phil McCrory, a hairstylist from Alabama, first discovered how hair could help soak up oil after he noticed the fur on Alaskan otters was completely soaked with oil during the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. He began testing how much oil he could collect with the hair clippings from his salon, eventually resulting in the “hairmat” to help clean up oil contaminated waters. From this point on, Matter of Trust has been collecting hair clippings, sorting them and shipping the fibers off to non-woven needlepunch factories to make hairmats to use for oil spill relief. Matter of Trust also creates booms from loose hair that is stuffed into nylon stockings, which are then doubled up and tied together to surround and soak up oil.
Matter of Trust claims that, “The U.S. has over 300,000 hair salons and each one cuts an average of a pound of hair per day. By joining our relief effort and signing up for our donor program, your salon will help us make a difference in the ecosystem and to help prevent further damage from oil spills that continue to aggressively destroy coastal water ways.”