With the Deepwater Horizon oil spill not under control, the average person may believe there is nothing he or she can do about it. However, one company in San Francisco has a rather bizarre solution for the oil spill — it involves a lot of hair.

Matter of Trust is a nonprofit company that uses donations of pet and human hair to create woven “hairmats” or booms to suck up oil. Since 1998, Matter of Trust has collaborated with thousands of salons in the U.S. and internationally.

According to matteroftrust.org, hairmats got their start in 1989 when Alabama hair stylist Phil McCrory was watching news coverage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. At the time, he noticed that the fur on Alaskan otters was saturated with oil and he realized the reason people shampoo their hair “is because hair collects oil.”

McCrory tested his theory by collecting hair clippings from his salon and stuffing them into pantyhose to see how much petroleum he could collect. That was when he invented the hairmat, according to the Matter of Trust website.

Some local salons said they had not heard about the project until recently, but said they would be interested in helping out for the cause.

“We have tons of pet hair every day and it just goes to waste,” said Jennifer Kiblinger, owner of Pampered Pet in Beckley. “I think it’s important because we just throw the hair away. I mean, why not? It will save plenty of animals out there.”

Local pet salons weren’t the only ones that said they would participate. Barbara Meadows, owner of La Contessa in Beckley, said she would be interested in helping out as well.

“I love to recycle and this would be something that would be helpful for the oil spill,” Meadows said. “Besides, there aren’t that many uses for cut hair anyway.”

Individuals can help out as well. Pet owners or even teachers can get involved in the project by going online and signing up.

To participate, first sign up on matteroftrust.org with the donor database program. Next, set aside a box and line it with a plastic garbage bag to put the hair inside. The website reminds people that any length of hair is accepted. Ideally, however, they want shampooed hair. People who sign up will receive e-mails telling them where to ship the hair.

Full story here.