LINDEN, Michigan — When residents get their hair cut at Serendipity Day Spa this month, their scraps of hair will be traveling a lot farther than the trash can.
The salon is sending customers’ hair trimmings to the Gulf of Mexico to help clean up a massive oil spill spreading across the waters.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s an inch or 5 inches, we’re putting all the leftover hair in a separate bin, and then we’ll be mailing it out,” said Jessica Eastman, who owns the salon.
A huge oil slick has formed in the Gulf of Mexico after an April 20 explosion at a drilling rig leased by oil giant BP.
More than 210,000 gallons of oil has been pouring into the gulf daily from a blown-out undersea well.
To help collect the hair, a San Francisco-based environmental organization called Matter of Trust has been putting together what it calls “oil spill booms” made of human hair.
Loose hair collected from salons across the country is stuffed into nylons, which are tied together and placed on the spill to contain it and soak up the oil, according to the group’s website, www.matteroftrust.org.
So far, more than 400,000 pounds of human hair and animal fur have been donated, according to the organization.
Serendipity Day Spa began the initiative Thursday and is offering a $5 discount to encourage customers to get their hair cut, Eastman said.
She said each time the salon fills a bin with hair, she will ship it to Matter of Trust for use in the booms.
“It might not seem like much if we just have one bag of hair, but if you have all these salons across the nation that are doing it, it could make a tremendous difference,” Eastman said.Because the Gulf Coast is an ecological resource of national significance, it’s encouraging to see groups from across the country help in whatever ways they can, said Hugh McDiarmid, communications director for the Michigan Environmental Council.
“I’ve never heard about this novel technique to absorb oil, but when you think about a disaster of this magnitude, it calls for some thinking out of the box,” he said.
So far, oil has washed up on at least two barrier islands in the Chandeleur Islands chain off Louisiana, and streaks of orange and rust-colored oil have snaked well west of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Unknown is where and how the hair booms will be deployed.
A Coast Guard spokesman in Louisiana told the Los Angeles Times Thursday that he had received more than 10 inquiries from people suggesting hair booms but that the Coast Guard has not acted on that suggestion.
Matter of Trust officials could not be reached for comment.
Linden resident Karen Costello, who is a regular customer at Serendipity Day Spa, said she thinks the idea is “amazing and awesome.”
“How great — it’s something that’s just going to be thrown into the trash anyway,” she said. “The scope of the problem is so huge, but if you do something like this and just get a haircut, it’s really going to help.”
Costello said she went in for a trim Thursday and was more excited about her haircut than usual.
“I have really thick hair, so it’s always a big pile, even if they only cut a little bit,” she said. “I’m glad it’s going to go to help.”
Information from wire reports is included in this story.