Are Hair Booms a Bust?

As most of you are now aware, Matter of Trust (matteroftrust.org), a San Francisco-based environmental non-profit organization, has helped clean up oil spills since 1998 by reusing donated hair clippings from hair salons, barber shops, pet groomers, and wool farmers. These donated manes are stuffed into recycled nylon stockings, creating highly absorbent booms to help contain oil spills. Since the Gulf Coast oil spill began, the group has been coordinating efforts to collect donations in temporary warehousing along the coast. Volunteers are building booms on site hoping to hold off the encroaching oil slick.

Tying up dead ends: Hair-made booms pile up in a Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, stockroom. Image courtesy of MatterofTrust.org.

But as of last Friday, May 21, BP has no plans to use these booms, according to a story I heard on NPR's All Things Considered. As reported by NPR, BP spokesman Mark Salt said that the absorbent boom now in use is the best product for the spill. Salt also said that "hair boom, while absorbent, has had some difficulties in its use and disposal, as well as undetermined environmental effects."

I've contacted Matter of Trust to find out what they plan to do, but it appears that they're still encouraging donations. Even if BP doesn't end up using these donated booms, which personally I would consider a(nother) grave mistake on their part, I do find it truly inpsiring how many salons across the country—indeed, the world!—have invested time, effort and talent into helping the residents of the Gulf Coast. If there's one positive to take away from all of this, it's that the salon community won't let ANYONE down!

UPDATE: On May 25, AP released the following story, confirming that BP and the U.S. Coast Guard have no plans to use the hair boom to help contain the spill.Further,  Matter of Trust is requesting salons to hold off on future hair donations until they get the go-ahead from BP. Read the full story here.

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