When Carrie Copenhaver went into Wave Riding Vehicles on Sunday, she brought a passel of shaggy-haired children and one shaggy-haired husband with her.
They didn’t exactly leave clean-cut – they are surfers, after all – but there were a few inches missing from their long layers when they walked out.
Copenhaver and her two sons, their two friends and her husband were taking advantage this week of one local business’s efforts to contribute to the Gulf Coast oil spill cleanup.
Dimensions Hair Studio was offering free haircuts Sunday, joining hair salons across the country that have been donating clippings to a San Francisco-based organization that turns them into booms to help soak up oil.
We shampoo our hair because it collects oil, proponents of the hair booms say. In theory, those same oil-collecting properties can be put to good use in the Gulf by collecting hair in booms and mats. The hair booms enjoyed a burst of popularity shortly after the initial explosion of the drilling rig, when salons and even pet groomers around the nation stocked the group’s warehouses with mountains of clippings.
But the group, Matter of Trust, ran into some controversy last month when BP said it would no longer use hair booms to collect oil from the spill, saying its synthetic booms are more effective.
Matter of Trust says on its website that municipalities and harbors in the region are still using the booms.
The hair that Dimensions collected on Sunday can’t be sent to Matter of Trust right away. The group says its warehouses are currently full of hair.
But Gwen Lala, owner of Dimensions, said hair can be stored for long periods, until there is room.
They’ve been collecting clippings at the salon for the past few weeks, she said. But she wanted to hold the free-cuts event Sunday to help get the word out about the spill.
Lala was also collecting monetary donations for the group Sunday to help purchase supplies for the booms.
Copenhaver’s 12-year-old son, Grey, had originally been growing out his hair to donate to Locks of Love. But the hot weather was making him impatient, and this seemed like a worthy cause to him, too, she said.
If oil from the spill found its way to the Virginia coast, Copenhaver said her family would be devastated.
“We’re all surfers,” she said. “The water is part of our lifestyle; it’s what we do.”
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