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 contacts, we are very grateful for the continued press coverage of the Clean Wave program. We know you are the captive audience of your hair stylists, who are sharing this great story! Thank you all for being eco-heroes and spreading the word!  

Program History

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, 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 which 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.

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, 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.”

Mountains of hair booms made during the BP Oil Spill. We were donated over 3/4 million pounds. Matter of Trust received hair from every zip code in North America and 30 other countries.  See our photo gallery below.

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.”

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.

Program Links

FAQs for how to donate hair, fur, fleece etc. via our ExcessAccess program

Purchase Sample or Industrial Hair Mats from our Online Store

Teacher/Student Oil Spill Clean Up Handout

How To Do A Classroom Fake Oil Spill Demo

YouTube on How Hair Collects Oil

YouTube on How To Make A Boom

YouTube on Hair Boom Soaks Up Oil

AFCEC and Matter of Trust collaboration

Austrialian Research on Human Hair as an Oil Spill Sorbent

Comparative effectiveness of natural by-products and synthetic sorbents in oil spill booms

EPA letter to Phil McCrory Oil Spill Hair Mat inventor

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

Biodegradation of Medium Chain Hydrocarbons by Acinetobacter venetianus 2AW Immobilized to Hair-Based Adsorbent Mats

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 Fur Donations
Hair Booms on the beach in Fair Hope Alabama
Felt Crafts hair felting machine
Hair booms protecting private beach in Florida
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 (short wide) vs. hair boom (long skinny)
Volunteers preparing mat square San Francisco Cosco Busan Spill
Composting oily hair mats with fungi, then thermophilic and finally vermicompost.
Volunteers doing oil spill clean up in San Francisco
2007 Ocean Beach oil spill clean up
Volunteers using hair mats during oil spill
Hair mats "adsorbing" oil "silver dollars" Hair mats are used in municipal storm drains Hair mats collect litter and oil
hair mat
Storm drain and cage system
Hair mats in cages by InletGuard
Hair mats in InletGuard storm drain cage
Hair mats in InletGuard storm drain cage
Hair mats in InletGuard storm drain cage
Hair mats in InletGuard storm drain cage
Hair mats in InletGuard storm drain cage
Oil slicks on streets can wash into bays, so cities are using our hair mats to line storm drain cages.
Hair mats in InletGuard storm drain cage
Anne and Don Evans training John on new felting machine for Matter of Trust
ARC volunteers at Eco Hub prepping fiber for mat making
Salon hair 3+ inches for mat scrims
Excellent Salon longer hair container - always DEBRIS FREE 🙂
Clean wave exhibit
Wrapping light pole in hair mat outside of Eco-Hub Student volunteers prepping fiber for machines. PLEASE NO DEBRIS IN BOXES! Bad for volunteers and bad for needle punch machines.
2017 Field trips come to work in the factory and discuss the future of industry
2018 Our wonderful ARC volunteers making mats
2018 Our wonderful ARC volunteers making mats
Our wonderful ARC volunteers making mats
Hair Mat weight and measurements
Hair Mat 2 Weight and Measurements