Clean Wave program
Donate hair, Fur and fiber
You shampoo because hair collects oil. Through our charity, you can donate hair, fur and fleece clippings to soak up major oil spills and help keep storm drains and waterways clean.
Media reporters please feel free to contact us. We are very grateful for the coverage. We know you’re the captive audience of your stylists who are sharing this great story! Thanks to all you eco-heroes!
How do I donate hair/fur/fleece?
To donate to our Clean Wave program, first sign up on our new gift / wish matching system The Free Exchange at The Hum Sum (even for only a one time donation, and please note – we are in Beta with this system. Thank you for your patience and feedback). We ask you to go through this quick process because warehouse spaces are limited and we cannot always accept boxes of clippings. Right now we need ponytails that are 3 inches or longer (we use these for the mats’ scrim – like a framework). We won’t spam, sell or share your email. But, we may need to reach you in the future for emergency oil spills. Thank you for your time and hair, fur, fleece… donation!
Why can’t you just give me a $%&$#@ address?!
We ask everyone to use our online program The Hum Sum Exchange rather than us just providing you an address because of the sheer volume of hair, fur, fleece… donations that we receive. Signing up is a very quick and painless process.
The system is free for you and it saves our charity an enormous amount of money, time and energy. Humanity is so wonderfully generous, our volunteers and staff sort funnel many tons of fiber to the warehouses and emergency spills when they can accept them. The cost of space to store the fiber (hair, fur, fleece, etc.) and to produce the mats are all part of a sustainable system that we need to keep in balance. We cannot overload one depot, while neglecting others. And not all depots are open year round. We don’t want any boxes returned, so we constantly update depot and new spill addresses.
For smaller, occasional donations you might have (such as one time ponytails), please BROWSE WISHES for potential recipients on the Hum Sum Exchange – Clean Wave section. Also, when there is an emergency oil spill, we send out alerts to all donors, closest to the disaster. Please send us your feedback on this, we always love to hear from you and get suggestions!
What happens to my hair when you get it?
Matter of Trust uses hair, fur, fleece… donations in several ways. Fibers are felted into mats on site or at our partner hubs. Hair can also be stuffed into sheaths, such as donated nylon stockings or burlap coffee bean bags, to make booms.
Mats are used by hazmat teams in oil spill cleanups and by public works departments in storm drain cages to keep motor oil drip spills out of waterways. Booms are best for encircling spills or “sandbagging” a beach to keep sands clean. Mats, booms, and loose fibers are used in classroom oil spill clean up demos.
Are hair mats safe for the environment?
Hair mats are non-toxic to the environment unlike petroleum based mats and booms. Oil companies drill and use oil to make petroleum based products that clean up oil spills. We are offering an efficient, renewable, natural eco-alternative to that silly cycle.
BP actually brought up that the hair mats and hair booms shed. But they were slammed in the press, as not only bald people go to the beach and sea mammals have fur coats. In comparison to the toxins BP was putting into the water, the natural hair shedding was minimal. Ideally people who colored, straightened or permed their hair wouldn’t swim, but until then and as a % of what pollutants are in waterways vs. what the mats can collect and remove in the way of contaminants – it’s no contest. But there are times where people will bring this up as a reason not to do it. There is always a way to nay something.
Why this matters?
Help us collect hair and fur, as these fibers soak up oil and can be used to save the environment.
CLEAN WAVE PROGRAM
Matter of Trust established the Clean Wave program to promote large-scale waste fiber recycling.
Using clippings of hair from salons, fur from pet groomers, fleece and feathers from farmers, and even laundry lint, we produce felted recycled fiber mats. These go to public works departments for use in storm drains. We also coordinate with emergency clean water efforts to supply stuffed sausage-shaped booms that can “sandbag” and protect coves and beaches. This program provides green jobs, as well as volunteer opportunities that are safe, non-hazardous, hands-on, and empowering during major oil spills.
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 been washing an oily head of hair while watching CNN coverage of otters covered in petrol during the famous Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska. It occurred to him that he was cutting fiber that could be used to soak up oil spills.
There are over 2500 oil spills a year on average. There are also over 370,000 hair salons in the US and over 200,000 pet groomers. They each cut on average two pounds (one kilo) of hair/fur per day. These fibers can be felted into mats or stuffed into recycled burlap sacks or pantyhose in order to make environmentally friendly booms and waddles which soak up oil.
On November 7, 2007 the cargo ship named Cosco Busan accidentally hit the San Francisco Bay Bridge and spilled 58,000 gallons of Bunker C fuel. Within hours, Matter of Trust coordinated efforts with hundreds of volunteers to place booms and mats along San Francisco’s Ocean Beach.
Our goal is to divert fibers from the waste stream, sort them into useful stockpiles, create replicable, sustainable green jobs, and manufacture renewable material products that clean our waterways.
As SF locals, we were uniquely situated to work with surfers who came out by the hundreds to volunteer. They also sorted the clean-up debris materials on beach tarps. We were then able to conduct a remediation experiment to compost the oily hair waste from the Cosco Busan spill. At the Presidio National Park, we begin by treating the oily mats using oyster mushrooms donated from Fungi.com, then thermophilic composting, and finally vermiculture (worms) to turn the hazardous, bunker fuel waste into healthy compost over 18 months (see the study here). 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. Nineteen warehouses – spread from Florida through Texas – 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. We’d like to thank Amanda Bacon, Yente Sehman, Barbara Johnson, Daisy Suduran, New Orleans Ritz Carlton Salon, Ingrid Setzer, Hanes Inc. Hooters and many more for their help. 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, demos, videos and lesson plans. Many students have done wonderful “hair for oil spill “projects in science fairs all over the US!
In 2014, Matter of Trust partnered with Inlet Guard and FeltCrafts. InletGuard makes storm drain cages and we did a pilot study in Garland, Texas. This was successful and led to more cities and seasonal refills. Matter of Trust has been funding hair felting machine research and thanks to a partnership with FeltCrafts in New Mexico, a great design for our affordable, hair specific needle punchers was developed.
In 2017, we opened the Matter of Trust Eco-Industrial Hub in the heart of San Francisco, which gets 16 million tourists a year. We created this model factory site to make hair mats and have exhibits on clean air, water, energy and ideal materials. We plan to support other hubs throughout the US and beyond so that donors have many places to send fibers, and the shipping costs and carbon footprint can be much lower. Our goal is to promote local waste fiber collection and felting wherever there are harbors, ports, bays or simply storm drains. We’d like to think collecting waste fibers from salons and groomers could be the new “paper route like after school job.”
- EPA letter to Phil McCrory Oil Spill Hair Mat inventor
- Biodegradation of Medium Chain Hydrocarbons by Acinetobacter venetianus 2AW Immobilized to Hair-Based Adsorbent Mats
What can I do?
We are always evolving and welcome new ideas, partners, contributions and emails. We have a very optimistic view of the future. We are very fond of this lovely planet!
We strongly believe that,
“When you give, you get back tenfold.”
Now, that’s a great exchange rate!
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