See our FAQ Page for How to donate hair/fur/fleece!

You shampoo because hair collects oil!
  Hair, fur, fleece clippings, and feathers soak up oils from the skin, air pollution, ocean oil spills…

Matter of Trust established the Clean Wave program to recycle waste fibers: clippings of hair from salons, fur from pet groomers, etc.  We produce felted hair mats for public works departments to use in storm drains and coordinate with large-scale clean water efforts that need stuffed sausage-shaped hair booms.  This program provides green jobs, as well as volunteer opportunities that are safe, non-hazardous, hands-on, and empowering during major oil spills.

Mountains of hair booms made during the BP Oil spill. We were donated over 3/4 million pounds And were told by the USPS that Matter of Trust received hair from every zip code in North America and 30 other countries.

Check out the press coverage of our Clean Wave program, including articles from the Wall Street Journal: Recent Press


Program History

In 1999, Lisa Gautier, Matter of Trust founder and President, began a partnership with Phil McCrory, a hair stylist and inventor from Alabama.  Years earlier, Phil had conceptualized using donated human hair clippings to soak up oil spills while he was washing an oily head of hair and simultaneously watching CNN coverage of otters covered in oil during the Exxon Valdez oil spill.  There are over 370,000 hair salons in the US and over 200,000 pet groomers, they each cut about 2 pounds (1 kilo) of hair / fur per day.  These fibers can be felted into mats or stuffed into recycled pantyhose to make environmentally friendly “booms” and “waddles” which soak up oil.

On November 7, 2007 a cargo ship named Cosco-Busan accidentally hit the San Francisco Bay Bridge and spilled 58,000 gallons of Bunker C fuel.  Within 48 hours, Matter of Trust coordinated efforts with hundreds of volunteers to place booms and mats along San Francisco’s Ocean Beach.

Because we were on the beaches of San Francisco we were uniquely situated to sort the clean up materials debris and conduct an experiment remediating the oily hair waste from the Cosco Busan spill.  At the Presidio National Park, we were able to begin by treating the oily mats using oyster mushrooms, then thermophilic composting, and finally vermiculture (worms) to turn the hazardous, bunker fuel waste into healthy compost over 18 months (see study here: Hair Mat Remediation Study). Composting is a viable alternative to conventional methods used for disposal of oil spill waste (for more information on composting visit our Global Compost Project).  Haz Mat teams are legally responsible for oil spill waste disposal, which is typically incinerated or buried in lined landfills marked “hazardous waste.”

In 2010, Matter of Trust initiated a huge mobilization to gather waste fibers and make hair booms for the BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf Coast Spill.  19 Warehouses – spread along the Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida coastlines – received hair, fur, fleece, and nylons from donors of every zip code in North America and 30 other countries.  Thousands of volunteers signed up to make booms and help the Gulf Coast. Many hosted “cut-a-thons,” “shave-a-thons” and “Boom B Qs” to collect donations and stuff nylons.  These booms were mostly used in Alabama and Florida.  Huge thanks Amanda Bacon, Yente Sehman, Barbara Johnson, Daisy Suduran, New Orleans Ritz Carlton Salon, Ingrid Setzer, Hanes Inc., and many more! Visit these links for more information and photos.

In 2013, Matter of Trust opened their Eco-Center in San Francisco, California and expanded the Clean Wave exhibit and lesson plans.

In 2014, Matter of Trust partnered with Inlet Guard and FeltCrafts.  InletGuard works with storm drains and did a pilot study in Garland, Texas where they tested using hair mats to soak up  motor oil and collect small debris from street runoff by placing them in  storm drain cages.  With FeltCrafts in New Mexico, the Clean Wave program is currently felting donated loose waste fibers and funding research to design and manufacture more affordable, needle punch felting machines for local employment initiatives and small businesses. Collecting waste fibers could be the new “paper route after school job.”

Our goal is to divert waste fibers into useful stockpiles, create replicable, sustainable green jobs, and manufacture renewable material products that clean our waterways.


Program Links

Purchase Sample or Industrial Hair Mats from our Online Store.

Teacher/Student Oil Spill Clean Up Handout in PDF

How To Do A Classroom Fake Oil Spill Demo

Teacher/Student Oil Spill Clean Up Handout

YouTube on How Hair Collects Oil

YouTube on How To Make A Boom

YouTube on Hair Boom Soaks Up Oil

EPA letter to Phil McCrory Oil Spill Hair Mat inventor

NASA test results on hair mats – original patent now expired and open source

Cosco Busan and BP Horizon Oil Spills Photo galleries

What can I (my kid, my classroom, my scout troop…) do to help the Clean Wave program?

Program Gallery

Pet Hair Donations
Hair Booms on Gulf Coast
Felt Crafts Felting Machine
Hair booms during BP - we used pool noodles and crab bags to hold all the booms and collect oil that was floating sometimes 2 feet below surface due to Corexit spraying. The white ones in front are just floating hair booms - in white tights donated by Hanes (Local to Alabama - they donated 250,000 pairs).
Mountains of hair booms made during the BP Oil spill. We were donated over 3/4 million pounds And were told by the USPS that Matter of Trust received hair from every zip code in North America and 30 other countries.
BP boom (white) compared to hair boom (in orange mesh)from our video
Volunteers cutting up hair mats by the beach
Composting oily hair mats with fungi, then thermophilic and finally vermicompost.
Volunteers using hair mats on Ocean Beach San Francisco November 2007 Hair mats are used in municipal storm drains and major oil spills. Check out our Clean Wave Program! Hair mats for storm drain cages collect litter and twigs as well as motor oil!
Anne and Don Evans of FeltCrafts who designed our amazing hair felting machine show a first layer sample

Date: 2016-08-21

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