The oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico is on my mind. For over 3 weeks, an estimated 200,000 gallons of oil are leaking into the water. Daily. I think of the fish, the fowl, the fishermen, and how tragic this is for our eco-system. There are over 400 wildlife species being threatened by this disaster, including whales, tuna, shrimp, birds, and even land animals.
As of the writing of this blog, there is still oil tumbling into the ocean. Scientists and concerned citizens have been offering solutions to the problem, ranging from non-functional to somewhat helpful. Even as the leakage still exists, many people are focusing on how to clean up the mess left behind. This solution is one of my favorites.
Recycled nylons and hair.
I recently read an article on the BBC website that interviewed Lisa Gautier, co-founder of Matter of Trust, an ecological public charity, who is coordinating the effort of collecting hundreds of thousands of pounds of hair daily. This hair then gets stuffed into recycled nylon tights to create gigantic booms (or “hairy sausages”) that soak up the oil as it comes ashore. Hair is very efficient as a magnet for oil. Gautier explains that each follicle of hair has an enormous surface area that the oil sticks to. This is why we shampoo our heads.
Much of the hair is being donated from hair salons, although it is also coming from dog groomers, alpaca and sheep farmers, and horse owners. Social media outlets are being used to get the word out, and Facebook is providing constant updates on this endeavor. This technique is being backed by the world’s second largest oil boom manufacturer, Applied Fabric Technologies.
So far, it has been a global effort, with hair coming from France, England, Spain, Brazil, Australia, Canada, and the US, and new shipments are coming in daily. An army of volunteers are assembling these booms and getting them out to clean-up crews.
See how it works (and read some scary statistics):
To me this is brilliant. Why throw away what can be used to help clean up one of the biggest messes in our ocean? I recently sent the list of donation instructions to three of my friends who own hair salons. One of my friends is a school teacher, and is making this a school project!
In my humble opinion, there should be NO hair thrown away anymore. It should all go towards this effort. If we ever want to clean up the damage we’re doing to the ocean, we need to pitch in and fix the mistakes we make.
For more information see: