Grant Wittevrongel recently travelled all the way from his home in Transcona to Portage Avenue just to get his hair cut at Lyla’s Family Affair hair salon.
Wittevrongel’s hair will soon be traveling even further than he did — all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, in fact. His sheared locks will become part of a project designed to help deal with one of the worst ecological disasters to ever occur in North America.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has poured more than six million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico since April 20.
The disaster inspired the owner of the Westwood salon and her staff to start collecting hair clippings. The hair will be shipped to Matter of Trust, a non-profit organization that develops environmentally sustainable projects that will assist with the clean-up along the Gulf Coast.
Wittevrongel’s three daughters convinced him to make the trek to owner Leila Boettcher-Ward’s shop — and he’s glad they did.
“You’re going to get your hair cut anyways, and I don’t have a whole lot to donate, but it’s the principle over profit and I think it’s a wonderful thing,” Wittevrongel said.
“It shocked me that this is what they’re doing to clean it up, and it makes perfect sense.”
Once the hair reaches the San Francisco-based organization, it is stuffed into nylon stockings that are tied up into booms, which contain and soak up oil spills.
As well, hair will be sent to non-woven needle-punch factories that make hair-mats for emergency oil spills and for oiled bird and mammal cages.
Boettcher-Ward said the clippings at her eco-friendly salon are usually thrown into the garbage, so donating them to Matter of Trust was an easy decision.
“Everything we do here is natural botanical, from our hair colours with as (minimal) chemicals as we can, and our skin care line is all 100% natural vegan,” said Boettcher-Ward, who opened the business in April.
Salon manager Desiree Dauphinais suggested the idea to Boettcher-Ward. She said that caring about the community and environment is an important part of what the salon is about.
“Everybody wants to be green but have no idea how to do it. In the hair industry it’s so hard because we deal with chemicals and hair sprays, and so anything we can do to make a better environment is great,” said Dauphinais, who lives in Westwood.
Dauphinais said that the response from customers has been overwhelmingly to date. Some even switched salons to support the project, she added.
The salon has already collected more than two pounds of hair. Dauphinais is hoping other salons will take up the challenge.
“We don’t want to be the only salon doing this. We want all salons doing it and working together to raise our environmental standards,” she said.
Boettcher-Ward said that the salon is also accepting hair clippings from individuals and other salons that will be forwarded to Matter of Trust.
For more information on the hair project contact the salon at 897-2217.
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