OMAHA — Hair today, Gulf tomorrow?
Salons across Omaha are clipping and saving bags and boxes of hair as part of a nationwide drive to help soak up the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
One problem: The company at the center of the massive cleanup effort in the Gulf has no plans to use the hair, which is piling up in Louisiana warehouses.
Oil giant BP said Thursday it would continue to use hairless “absorbent booms” made specifically to help mop up oil and chemical spills.
“There is no shortage of absorbent booms in Louisiana and, at this time, there is no need for alternatives,” Mark Salt, a BP spokesman told The World-Herald.
News that the hair might go unused failed to dampen enthusiasm among area hair stylists. Several said they would continue to stockpile the hair, in hopes it might someday be used.
We’re still going to collect it, for right now. We’re hoping it can be used for good,” said Roxanne Kahn, director of salons for Garbo’s in Omaha.
The drive was begun this month by a San Francisco-based environmental group, Matter of Trust. The group had hoped the hair could be stuffed in nylon stockings and used as natural booms to collect the oil.
They say hair is naturally made to soak up oil.
Lisa Craig Gautier, who cofounded the group with her husband, Patrice Olivier Gautier, could not be reached for comment Thursday. But she has reportedly said they first started collecting hair 10 years ago to help with smaller spills.
The group reported on its website this week that they are working with BP to provide information about the hair booms.
Stylist Mikaela Sinkral, 20, of Omaha persuaded her colleagues at Concepts Salon to start saving the hair they swept up every day and threw in the trash.
Since last Friday, she has collected a garbage bag full.
“We sweep up tons of hair and that bag is heavy. You don’t realize how heavy hair is,” she said.
Neither Sinkral nor other stylists collecting hair had yet shipped any south. Sinkral said she planned to do so next week.
“We’re just trying to do our part, whether they use the hair or not,” she said.
Customers appeared to appreciate the effort.
Amy Tokos of Omaha said she and her daughter, Regan, 14, both thought the idea was great when they each received a hair cut during the past week.
“It’s stuff that’s being thrown away otherwise. It’s a great resource if it works and it’s being used,” said Tokos.