How can boxes of leftover hair come to the aid of one of the worst U.S. oil spill in history?
The answer is, hair absorbs natural skin oils, that’s why we wash it. So why not petroleum?
It’s really not such a hair-brained idea.
Weatherford Sport Clips Haircuts manager Candace Rynders first heard about it when she clicked on a link for hairstylists on Facebook. Matter of Trust, an environmental charity out of San Francisco, was heading up efforts to collect hair and fur clippings and asking volunteers to stuff them into recycled pantyhose for use as oil containment booms.
Maybe they could help. She e-mailed owner Christy Slabbekoorn, who discovered a few days later the national franchise had begun to back the program. Sport Clips Haircuts was asking all 690 stores to pitch in.
“I thought it was a great idea,” Slabbekoorn said. “Any little thing helps. And this is an easy thing for us to do in order to help out. It was a fit.”
Slabbekoorn said the store has collected more than 10 pounds of hair for its first shipment today, which will be sent to one of 15 warehouses along the Gulf coast in Florida, Alabama or Louisiana.
Volunteers there will use brooms or toilet plungers to push the hair into nylons braced open by PVC pipe. The pipe is removed later and the nylons tied, giving each the appearance of a giant sausage.
After being doubled up and tied together, the nylons are covered with mesh and deployed along shorelines by hazardous materials teams to soak up oil.
According to Matter of Trust, booms and mats made from hair have been used by the nonprofit organization for about 10 years and combat an average of 2,600 spills annually.
Current efforts are to curb the effects of the April 20 explosion of the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig.
The explosion has caused a massive ongoing spill that has sent millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.