If you’ve been fretting about the ever-worsening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it’s time to stop wringing your hands and start trimming your hair.
At least two Anchorage hair salons — Marie’s Beauty Salon & Supply and Salon Ivy — save up the clippings that hit their floors and ship them off periodically to groups like Matter of Trust, an eco-charity that collects hair, feathers and other fibers for use in making containment boom and absorbent mats.
Salon Ivy owner Brian Ivy said his company started collecting hair shortly before the Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering the ongoing spill in the Gulf. The timing was just coincidental, although the employee who suggested joining the program, Laura Ellis, is actually from Louisiana. Ivy described Laura Ellis as an “eco-stylist” who’s encouraged the salon to adopt greener business practices.
“She’s inspired us to do a lot more,” Ivy said.
Marie’s is a “brand spankin’ new partner” with Matter of Trust, according to business manager Diane Holzschuh. The salon just started collecting hair last week after learning about the program through one of its suppliers, Pureology hair products.
“We’re very excited to be participating,” Holzschuh said in an e-mail.
Unlike other hair donation programs — like Locks of Love, which collects hair to make wigs for children suffering from long-term medical hair loss — there are no criteria hair must meet in order to be donated to Matter of Trust. All clippings are acceptable — short or long, permed, color treated or natural.
“A lot of people are used to requirements for donating hair,” Ivy said. But any and all hair collected in the salons is usable, he said — even the tiny hairs collected in electric clippers.
“We collect all of that,” Ivy said. “We bag it up and save it.”
Salon Ivy and Marie’s then ship that hair off — at the salons’ expense — to be matted into what Ivy described as “little carpets” or gathered into boom. Holzschuh explained the process in a recent e-mail to Marie’s customers:
“Hair is stuffed into old nylon material. Once it’s in the water, the oil gravitates to the hair. The boom is removed from the water, dripping only water.”
According to Holzschuh’s e-mail, the boom can be reused after being wrung out or run through a centrifuge.
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