hair-boom-example-oilspill.jpgThousands of salons, groomers and wool farmers are sweeping up their floors to mail the hair, fur and wool clippings to help contain the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The fibers are being stuffed into nylon stockings and covered in mesh to make highly effective “hair booms” to protect beaches and coastal waters threatened by floating oil, all thanks to a non-profit organization called Matter Of Trust.

We all shampoo our hair precisely because it naturally absorbs oil, but it took Phill McCrory, a stylist from Alabama, to realize that hair was an efficient and abundant material for collecting and containing petroleum spills. Phil’s company sells hair mats made of hair purchased in China, where hair, fur and wool have been recycled for thousands of years. His mats were used by volunteers in the clean-up of an oil spill in California in 2007. For over a decade, Ottimat has partnered Matter of Trust to orchestrate an International Natural Fiber Recycling system and stimulate green jobs while guarding against oil spills.

hair-collected-oil-spill.jpgInstead of throwing away hundreds of thousands of pounds of natural, renewable fiber every day, Matter of Trust was founded in 1998 to provide a way for salons and groomers to mail boxes of discarded hair to a central location where it can be stored and eventually applied to the clean up of toxic oil spills.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of hair and nylons are now in transit via UPS, Fed Ex, and USPS from donors in every state of the US, Canada and beyond.  “There are 370,000 hair salons sending hair, and 100,000 pet groomers, alpaca and sheep farmers involved,” Lisa Gautier, co-founder of the Matter of Trust, told AFP.

Boom making parties (Boom-B-Que’s) are cropping up all over the Gulf and in other states, with people helping to stuff nylon stockings with hair and fur. The booms will be stored in donated temporary warehouse spaces up and down the Gulf Coast.

Lines of boom will protect beaches, stacks of boom will insulate rocky barriers and floating “lobster cages” engineered by The Army Corps of Engineers will utilize the booms at the “Living Edge” of the Gulf Spill.

To donate hair or fur to the effort, SIGN UP to Matter of Trust’s Excess Access program, their mass donation matching database system. It is free and easy to do. The effort needs cash too, because the plastic mesh which is beneficial for wrapping booms, costs $60.00 per roll.

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