CUMBERLAND — Rhiannon Holler’s salon customers are now being treated to something new.
Sure, it’s the same old shampoo, cut and style. But the hair cut off is no longer being trucked to the nearest landfill. Instead, Holler’s clients at Mane Kreations in Bowling Green are having their hair become part of an “international phenomenon.”
“They’re pretty excited about it,” Holler said of her customers’ reaction to the fact that their hair will be packed up and shipped out to help play a role in cleaning oil spills like the ongoing crisis along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana. “Just knowing that the salon that they go to and the hair cut off their head is going to something useful …”
Human hair and animal fur can be used to create booms that help absorb oil from water. An eco-friendly hair stylist first had the idea in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez spilled oil near Alaska. Since 2000,MatterofTrust.org has become a top nonprofit agency serving to “coordinate masses of people and tons of donations.”
A Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig, leased by BP, exploded April 20 about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The explosion killed 11 workers. BP officials have estimated 210,000 gallons of oil a day are leaking from the rig, now sitting some 5,000 feet below the Gulf of Mexico surface. Other estimates have the daily leakage being much higher.
The response from people — and animals — across the country and the world has been promising, said Matter of Trust President Lisa Gautier.
“Pretty much every city in the country has donated hair,” Gautier said.
According to information online at MatterofTrust.org, nearly 370,000 pounds of hair and fur are cut every day and simply thrown away.
On a video posted on the website, it took worker John Thurston less than two minutes to fill a leg-long, 4-inch PVC pipe with hair. The pipe was capped on both ends with nylons.
“If we had a couple hundred people … knocking these out, we would really, really have an impact,” Thurston said.
Much of the hair collected now will be used for future events and will be stored in temporary warehouses “just in case,” Gautier said.
Holler said people in this area might not understand that the incident, the center of which is about 1,300 miles away from downtown Cumberland, can impact the local economy.
“Just because it’s in the gulf doesn’t mean it’s not going to impact us in some particular way,” Holler said.
In communities such as Buras, Venice and Port Sulphur in Louisiana, tourism and fishermen have come to a halt. Holler said she anticipated fuel costs rising, as well as the price of seafood.
Brian Metty, co-owner of Creative Trends Salon on Winchester Road, said his shop also is sending collected hair to storage warehouses through Matter of Trust. Metty said he expects to fill about five trash bags a week. He’ll ship the hair in cardboard boxes to an address provided by Matter of Trust.
“We just throw it away, normally,” Metty said. “We would like to get the word out. Maybe more salons would do it.”
Holler said she is willing to cover shipping costs if salons drop bags of hair to her facility along U.S. Route 220. Additionally, customers who get their hair cut Tuesday, Thursday or Friday this week will see 50 percent of their bill donated to Matter of Trust.
Holler can be reached by phone at 301-697-4575. Holler said she also can help other salons sign up on their own with Matter of Trust.
Other area businesses participating in the Hair for Oil Spills Program with Matter of Trust:
• Centre of Attention Hair & Nails, Cumberland
• Deep Creek Salon, McHenry
• Nola’s Salon LLC, Oakland
• Visible Changes LLC, Oakland.
Boxes of hair, fur, waste wool, alpaca fleece and nylons must be shipped on or before Thursday. That deadline could be extended depending on needs at the time.
Kevin Spradlin can be reached at email@example.com.