Can you use hair mats to clean up oil spills?

We’ve used hair mats locally on street drains in a recent ground oil spill in San Francisco. The US Air Force is using fibers to aid in disposing of their fire retardant waste. Ski resorts over on the East Coast are using them directly under snow equipment to catch oil for easy disposal later. Bus fleets have them in drip pans under their vehicles. These are a few examples of active users of hair mats, booms, fibers, etc.

Related Projects

Collecting Hair, Fur & Fleece

Matter of Trust established the Clean Wave program to promote large-scale waste fiber recycling.

Making Hair Mats

In 2010, Matter of Trust initiated a huge mobilization to gather waste fibers and make hair booms for the BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf Coast Spill. Nineteen warehouses – spread from Florida through Texas – received hair, fur, fleece, and nylons from donors of every zip code in North America and 30 other countries.

Storm Drains & End Users (Oil Spills)

In 1999, Lisa Gautier, Matter of Trust founder and President, began a partnership with Phil McCrory, a hair stylist and inventor from Alabama. Years earlier, Phil had been washing an oily head of hair while watching CNN coverage of otters covered in petrol during the famous Exxon Valdez accident…


There are over 2500 oil spills a year on average.  There are also over 370,000 hair salons in the US and over 200,000 pet groomers. They each cut on average two pounds (one kilo) of hair/fur per day. These fibers can be felted into mats or stuffed into recycled burlap sacks or pantyhose in order to make environmentally…

Why this matters?

Our goal is to divert fibers from the waste stream, sort them into useful stockpiles, create replicable, sustainable green jobs, and manufacture renewable material products that clean our waterways.

What can I do?

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