Utahns donate hair to help with oil spill

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utahns are doing their part to clean up the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

They're doing it by contributing their hair or the fur from their pets.

How does it work?
The loose hair clippings are collected, bundled and stuffed into nylon stockings which are tied together to make "booms" that surround and contain as well as soak up oil spills. -MatterofTrust.org

The damaged BP oil well continues to spew thousands of gallons of crude every day, and cleanup crews wish they had a quick way to mop it up. One solution they're trying is available in mass quantities at a salon near you.

Salon owner Christine Nance and her partner at Just Perfect Salon are trimming a little off for charity.

Christine's bright blond hair falling to the floor may turn black a few days from now, soaking up crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

Did you know...
  • There are, on average, 2,600 oil spills every year
  • 726 million gallons of oil are spilled annually
  • Used motor oil accounts for 363 million gallons in our oceans
  • 50% of Americans change their own motor oil, but only 1/3 of that oil is collected and recycled
  • One quart of oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of drinking water

"I never thought about that until just now, but it's for a good cause so I'm happy to do it," she says.

It's part of a nationwide bandwagon haircutters are climbing aboard, collecting and sending their hair to the Gulf Coast.

"We have about 30 people that work here," says Sharon Collard, co-owner of Just Perfect Salon. "So you can imagine the amount of hair that comes out of here."

300,000 pounds of hair and fur are cut daily in the U.S. -MatterofTrust.org

A charitable group called Matter of Trust is collecting the hair in a giant warehouse in Florida. It's because of hair's ability to absorb oil while not absorbing water. The hair is stuffed into nylon stockings which can be used as floating booms to contain and soak up the oil -- which threatens to spread into critical wildlife habitat.

For a long time, salons have been collecting hair to make wigs for cancer patients. Those missions do not conflict.

Cancer charities typically insist on hair of a certain length.

"If you're not cutting off 10 inches then the hair goes in the trash," Sharon says. "So this would be another great use for it."


It's not just women's hair that helps. Men can contribute at the salon as well, beard and all.

And man's best friend can help too. Bella, a miniature poodle, got a trim at the Meowser Pet Salon.

"Oil spills are so damaging, it's just terrible," says owner Angela Murdock. "To know there's something so simple as pet hair and people hair that can soak it up is amazing."

The Matter of Trust charity spearheading the effort is also collecting nylon stockings to hold the hair.

You don't have to own a salon to help. They're taking contributions from individuals too.

E-mail: jhollenhorst@ksl.com

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