• From hair to there: PG haircutters assist with Gulf cleanup

    By Darci D’Anna and Cameron Douglas

    The April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oilrig, and the rig’s subsequent sinking two days later, created an undersea oil gusher that some are calling the worst environmental disaster of our time. Viewing aerial photos of the spreading oil plume can impart a feeling of helplessness, but not for the people at an organization called Matter of Trust. And not for a growing group of Pacific Grove businesses.

    Many of our local haircutters and some pet groomers are finding a way to help with the Gulf oil spill. Under the guidance of distribution facilitator Matter of Trust, an ecological charity, these local businesses are helping other communities by sending hair clippings to warehouses along the Gulf Coast to be made into oil capturing “hair booms.” Vigorous response from salon owners shows a very caring attitude and willingness to make an active contribution towards stewarding the environment.

    Oil booms are commonly used to contain offshore oil spills. Hair booms work much the same way, except they are stuffed with hair and made of recycled/reclaimed materials instead of 100% petroleum-based plastics. Hair booms are basically a nylon stocking stuffed with hair and encased in nylon netting. The donated hosiery provides a container and structure for the hair, while outer netting prevents tearing.

    Donated warehouse space receives hair and hosiery shipments in areas potentially most affected by the spill. Volunteers in Gulf communities use these supplies to construct hair booms. Stocking-stuffing parties called “Boom-B-Q’s” are producing mountains of stuffed nylons. Matter of Trust supplies the outer netting and does the final assembly of booms to be deployed at the spill site.

    Make no mistake; the method is effective. And the principles are simple. Hair draws oil to itself without the use of chemicals. Hair also sheds water naturally, leaving the water behind while the oil clings to it. During the San Francisco Bay tanker spill of 2007, hazard mats made of hair cleaned up beaches and were then composted. The oil-soaked hazard mats were completely broken down to non-toxic compost with the addition of green waste and mycelium mushroom components. Videos of this process and the hair boom in action can be seen on the Matter of Trust’s website (see sidebar).

    Several PG stylists said they had wondered about uses for hair clippings. Larry Wagner described working at a New York salon many years ago that stockpiled hair in a warehouse stacked to the ceiling, hoping for the day it would be used. Coincidently, the original Hair Mat inventor, hair stylist Phil McCrory, got the idea in 1989 while watching the Exxon Valdez oil spill on television. McCrory watched scenes of oil-soaked otter fur and the idea of making an oil-soaking hair mat hit him. This vision eventually became the Otti Mat.

    Today, salons in Pacific Grove and throughout the United States and Canada are keeping that vision alive by recycling hair and graciously taking the initiative to ship it to where it can do the most good, namely our exposed coastline and fragile marshlands. According to the Matter of Trust website, all salons, groomers, wool and alpaca fleece farmers and individuals can sign up to donate hair, fur, waste wool, clippings, nylons and funding. The signup link is right there on the MOT home page. This nationwide grass roots effort connects thousands of businesses to immediate environmental benefit.

    Participating local businesses include Danielle’s Hair Design; Capelli Salon; Boomerang Hair Studio; Ivy’s Beauty Salon; The Hair Specialist; Adara Salon; Hair Affair; Setsuko’s Beauty Salon; Wave Lengths; Jae’s Molibang; Wildflowers Hair Salon; Royal Paws Pet Grooming; and “new kid on the block,” Lonny McDaniel at Just 4 U Hair Salon.




    posted to Cedar Street Times on May 19, 2010

    Topics: Current Edition, Front PG News

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