When Marcie Hartung of Wink Salon in Jeannette started gathering the hair that covered her floor each day with the intention of sending it south to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, she had no idea how quickly the idea would spread.
Hartung sent off an 8-pound box of hair this week to Matter of Trust, a San Francisco-based organization that has collected hair and fur from salons, groomers and farms across the country since 2000.
On April 20, BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana, killing 11 workers and rupturing an underwater pipe that is spewing millions of gallons of crude oil into the gulf.
Hair is adsorbent, which means oil clings to it — not absorbent, which means it soaks it up.
From participating salons, hair is sent to warehouses near the gulf and stuffed into recycled pantyhose to form booms. Matter of Trust plans to string the booms together to help capture oil reaching the shores on the gulf.
When Hartung announced her plan to send hair to help with the cleanup effort, she was flooded with offers from a dozen other salons who also wanted to donate their hair clippings.
In Jeannette, participating salons include Wink Salon, Decade Hair Designs, Chicklo’s Barber Shop, Studio B, Jill’s Hair Studio, Sam’s Barber Shop, Guys and Dolls and Uptown Salon. Silhouettes by Kim and Salon Deva in Greensburg and Gioacchino’s Salon in North Huntingdon are also involved.
“The oil spill made me do it,” said Hartung. “I feel like I want to do it. We’re just going to throw it out anyway.”
Pattie Reno of Decade Hair Designs had heard of Matter of Trust several years ago but the latest spill reminded her of the project. When Hartung called Reno to see if she’d participate, it was an easy answer.
“Marcie called and said ‘Here’s what’s going on, and here’s what we can do about it,’ ” said Reno. “Everyone needs to join in and try to do something because doing nothing means nothing happens. If we can save wildlife, it’ll be a trickle-down effect that affects a lot of things. It was something really important, and I’m glad to do it.”
Hartung plans to continue the project indefinitely.
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