SHAINA FORSMAN and about 40 other students from Larkspur’s Marin Primary and Middle School got the best of two worlds Monday – helping the environment by getting a haircut.
“I’m really glad I can contribute and help out the environment,” said Forsman, 13, of Corte Madera. “Also, I really needed a haircut. I have split ends.”
Forsman and the other students participated Monday in Eco-Cuts, a program designed by Marin Primary to help in the cleanup effort triggered by the Nov. 7 oil spill in the bay.
All of the hair clippings will be donated to Matter of Trust, an environmental nonprofit in San Francisco that weaves the hair into mats to soak up oil.
“The kids wanted to go to the beach and help clean up the oil, but
that’s too dangerous,” said Dave Demartini, middle school director at Marin Primary. “This gives them a way to feel like they’re helping out, and it’s totally safe. ? They’ll do anything to help the environment.”
Demartini learned about the hair-mat program through a parent who serves on the school’s Green Committee. Demartini proposed the idea to the faculty, including primary school director Wendy Feltham, who asked her hairstylist about it.
Feltham was unaware that her stylist, Wendy Coles, was already involved with Matter of Trust. Coles signed up her Novato salon, Color Color, to donate hair clippings just a week before Feltham brought it up. Feltham wanted Coles to bring down some of her stylists to Marin Primary and donate their time for the haircuts.
“The salon is in the process of becoming a certified green business, so we were all over it,” Coles said of staging Eco-Cuts. “As a hair stylist, I’m always wondering if there’s anything I can do to give back. This was perfect for us.”
The school has been active in helping with the cleanup efforts since the Cosco Busan oil tanker crashed into the Bay Bridge and spilled 58,000 gallons of oil into the bay. Students held a fundraising barbecue, sold hot chocolate and donated towels and plastic bags.
The kids were excited to help out, even if they were a tad perplexed about how their hair would help clean up oil.
“I thought it was a pretty cool idea, but I didn’t know how it would work out,” said Kate Restaino, 14, of San Anselmo. “I thought, ‘How can they use hair to clean up oil?’ It was pretty weird, but I’m really happy we can help. It feels good.”
Human hair is extremely efficient at gathering grease and oil from the air, skin or water, officials noted. Hair is woven into 2-foot-square mats that are used like towels to mop up oil on beaches and in the water.
Not only do the mats pick up the oil, they’re bio-degradable: Matter of Trust puts mushroom spores on the oil-covered mats, and as the mushrooms grow, they eat the oil and hair. The mushrooms are then turned into compost, and mulch and used for gardening.
Feltham said the 340 students enrolled at Marin Primary are eager to help.
“It fits right in with the mission of our school,” Feltham said. “This is the next step in how we can help. The kids are very excited to do their part.”
Christine Berkley’s sons Lucas, 7, and Aiden, 5, both got haircuts Monday after holding out for weeks.
“We knew this was coming up, so we didn’t get them haircuts, even though they needed it bad,” Berkley said. “They were getting pretty shaggy.
“But this is a great thing for the school and the community, and the kids were way into it.”