The Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster is fouling miles of beaches and water in the Gulf of Mexico, and there is no indication that British Petroleum (BP) will have the flow of millions of gallons of oil stopped anytime soon.

Two local business owners decided to do what they can to assist in containing the disaster and cleaning up the environment. A Special Touch Grooming owner Chris McDonough and Lori Winters, owner of Flip Salon, are working together to send pounds and pounds of hair to an organization that can put it to use in fighting the spill.

McDonough said the first shipment of hair would be sent by June 16 so that it could be used to help clean up oil along the Florida coast. The organization — Matter of Trust — has been collecting hair from all over the world to be converted into mats and booms designed to collect oil. The San Francisco-based company has been in the recycling and reuse business since 1999.

“I had read a story last year about a groomer down in Indy doing the same thing,” said McDonough. “I didn’t follow through with it then, but I had a student here who contacted the group. They sent her a video showing what they use the hair for and how they transform it into booms. I went online and registered with Matter of Trust. They have been collecting hair from all over the place — salons, groomers — they even take alpaca hair. They put the hair in pantyhose, so we’re taking donations of pantyhose, too. Anyone who wants to donate it, Matter of Trust can use it.”

McDonough explained that Matter of Trust uses human and animal hair for the booms because it naturally absorbs oils. And it does so very well.

“The hair boom actually works better,” said McDonough. “It soaks up the oil better than the synthetics in the conventional booms, so we’re really hoping that BP will definitely want to use the hair.”

Matter of Trust asked that the hair be washed before being shipped, and that no foreign material, such as fabric or paper, be included in the donation.

Last week, McDonough and Winters met to pack up their first 30-gallon bag of hair to be sent. Winters said that when she heard that McDonough was getting involved, she decided to help as well. The response has been strong and positive, she said.

“We started a couple weeks ago after we heard about it,” said Winters. “We’ve had containers out to collect it, but (McDonough) cuts a lot more hair than we do. Our clients think it’s cool, though a couple of them thought it was a joke. We had to explain why we would send hair. We’ve also had people come in because they heard we were doing this. They’re all really for it once they realize what it is.”

The first shipment likely will not be the last, according to the two owners. And they may not stop once the BP spill clean-up is finished.

“Depending on the cost of shipping, we’ll do this until they tell us not to send anymore,” said Winters. “We were throwing it away anyway. Why not do this? I’m sure there are other spills they could use the hair for other places, too. There’s always someplace it could go.”

To make a donation or for more information about the local hair collection effort, contact McDonough at 455-3093 or Winters at 453-3547. For additional information about Matter of Trust, visit

Full article here.