Dog groomer Bridget Edgington feels she has found a way to combine her love of dogs with her desire to help with the huge oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.
She’s sending all the dog hair she clips at her Port Angeles grooming business, Happy Dog House, to an organization based in San Francisco called Matter of Trust, which is making hair and natural fiber of all types into oil-collecting “hair booms.”
The hair, however, is mostly collecting in warehouses.
BP isn’t using the “hair booms” and says said they don’t work.
Edgington learned about Matter of Trust’s project when the agency sent out a mass e-mail to groomers, hairdressers and others with access to large volumes of hair or fiber, whether from humans or animals.
On a recent day cocker spaniel Maverick seemed to enjoy having his long black coat shaved off in time for summer.
As the fluffy hair hit the floor, Edgington scooped it up and put it in a tall trash can. It was nearly full.
“This is giving back to the community,” she said.
“It’s a great way to use what would just be thrown away.”
“Being a part of this country requires we all pull together when a catastrophe such as the oil problem in the Gulf strikes,” she said.
“Donating the dog hair is a way I can participate directly to this situation, hopefully help out by relieving some of the damage, and especially shield some of the wildlife from harm.”
But, while the idea to donate hair caught fire around the nation about a month ago, BP and the official groups in charge of the oil spill response say not so fast.
BP rejects booms
According to the Matter of Trust website, BP has declined to employ the volunteer-made booms, saying they had enough of their own synthetic booms.
“It is not part of our formal response,” David Nicholas, BP spokesman said in a Peninsula Daily News phone interview Friday. “We have enough absorbent boom to do the job effectively.
“We are extremely touched by the willingness of people to help and their generosity,” he added.
According to the Matter of Trust’s website, www.matteroftrust.org, a “huge international natural fiber recycling mobilization” currently is under way to get the “hair booms” in place to help contain the Gulf Coast spill.
They have 19 donated warehouses in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, taking hair donations from all over the U.S., Canada and beyond.
The group also takes recycled nylons, which are stuffed with the loose hair to make tubes for soaking up oil.
400,000 pounds of hair
Using hundreds of volunteers, the group has gathered close to 400,000 pounds of hair and fur and has made more than 25 miles of booms so far.
That’s a drop of oil in the bucket compared with BP’s 6 million feet of synthetic boom, which is more than a thousand miles in length.
And so far, most of the booms are still sitting in warehouses.
While the “Unified Command” in charge of cleanup: BP, the U.S. Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service have banned the hair booms, they can be used by Gulf municipalities and harbors to protect their shores.
The tubes/booms can be tied into bundles and strung together to form a blockade to shore-bound floating oil, or simply rolled along a beach to collect tar balls, according to Matter of Trust.
They can also be stuffed into burlap bags and “sandbagged” to protect the shores from oil on incoming tides.
Used in bay
A recent news report in the Mobile, Ala., Press-Register detailed a volunteer effort June 24 to place the hair booms at the mouth of ecologically fragile Weeks Bay, near Magnolia Springs, Miss.
One of the issues that BP and the response team had with the hair booms was that they sink when they become waterlogged, possible creating another environmental hazard.
By inserting sections of children’s “pool noodles” into bags with the hair, the booms stay afloat.
Lisa Gautier, president of Matter of Trust, said it was the “first deployment of hair boom in an area with oil.”
She was on hand to supervise and assist with the booms placement, as were BP contractors.
She was not available for comment Friday.
While BP has declined to employ the booms, that doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm of people who want to help.
Patti Currie, longtime hairstylist and owner of Patti’s Off Peabody in Port Angeles, learned about the hair donation program Friday morning, when an 82-year-old client asked if she was going to save her hair to donate.
Currie wasn’t aware of the program, but educated herself in the next few hours.
“I want to help these people,” she said. “It’s so devastating to see this.”
She wants to become a donation center where other hair salons, groomers and the community and drop off hair, fiber or fur.
She said she will pay for shipping.
“I started my bag of hair today,” she said, starting with her senior client’s donation. “Everybody wants to help.”
A random sampling of hair salons and groomers in Clallam and Jefferson counties showed that some knew of the program but weren’t participating, while others hadn’t heard of it but were possibly interested in participating.
Edgington is undeterred by BP’s cool response.
“I think the hair booms work. It’s a valuable resource; I hope BP will reconsider.”
She has more than 10 pounds of dog hair boxed up and ready to go – she is just waiting for Matter of Trust to tell her where to send it.
Matter of Trust asks that people not send hair donations unsolicited, but e-mail first and ask to get on the list.
There are guidelines and instructions for hair gathering on their website, www.mattersoftrust.org.
See the original article here.