Hair Boom: Giving Clippings New Life

Clippings turned into booms to absorb oil

By Christie Smith
|  Thursday, May 6, 2010  |  Updated 7:08 PM PDT
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Hair Boom: Giving Clippings New Life

Christie Smith

You may think this is just a big bag of hair but to the group A Matter of Trust, it's a way to help clean up an environmental disaster.

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The solution to the massive oil spill in Gulf Coast just may be the on the floor of your local hair salon. At least, that's what a San Francisco-based non-profit believes.

Matter of Trust is creating absorbant booms to send to areas affected by the giant oil slick that has enveloped much of the Gulf of Mexico. And yes, these booms are made of hair.

The group collects hair from salons and individuals and creates hair mats about the size of a small door. The mats feel like a giant SOS pad. Matter of Trust accepts hair donations from throughout the world -- donations of both human hair and animal hair come into the group's San Francisco office by the boxload, according to Lisa Gautier, the group's president and executive director.

The hair solution to oil slicks dates back to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, when a stylist saw news coverage of animals covered in oil.  When he had a client in the shampoo bowl of his salon, he realized hair is extremely absorbent, and had an ah-ha moment. That gave birth to the hair mat.

Gautier and her husband turned the concept into a non-profit in 1999, and has been creating hair mats ever since. After the Cosco Busan spill in the Bay Area in 2007, crews used the hair creations almost like a paper towel to clean up Bay Area beaches.

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