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Want To Help With The Oil Spill? Donate Hair Clippings

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You've been needing a haircut. Now is the best time to get one because your hair can absorb oil from the Gulf of Mexico.

Human hair clippings (often donated by salons) have been woven into mats, stuffed into nylon stockings, and placed upon the Gulf of Mexico thanks to an enterprising green nonprofit group called Matter of Trust.

Your hair clippings won't be useless anymore if you choose to donate themThis idea of human-hair-as-an-oil-sponge started back in 1989 with a man named Phillip McCrory. Seeing rescue workers try to clean the fur off sea otters during the Exxon-Valdez oil spill inspired McCrory to try the idea with human hair. Using his son's kiddie pool, a pair of nylon stockings, five pounds of hair, and some oil, he discovered that the hair soaked up every bit of oil in the pool.

This idea was later expanded on by NASA and has been acknowledged as a means of cleanup technology by the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

When used in large numbers, these mats have been shown to be extremely absorbent. During the 2006 oil spill in the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard appealed for hair, which has been shown to be highly effective at soaking up oil.

Human hair is biodegradable; therefore, it is one of the safest cleaning solutions to an oil spill. Aside from human hair, dog hair and feathers have been used.

Some may argue that the hair might be dirty or unclean for use in the Gulf. Rest assured, the hair is shampooed before weaving into mats. This gives it maximum absorbing ability.

Whether or not these hair mats will be the primary source of cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico has yet to be determined.

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About Mary L'abbate

  • Grace

    are there any other ways to help?

  • Shannan

    Im looking for the address to send our hair clippings to. We are ready to do our part and im having much trouble finding the information I need.
    Thanks.

  • Mary L’abbate

    Hello Shannan and Grace! I appreciate your need to help out.

    According to the Matter Of Trust website, the only way to be able send hair to the company is for your nearby salon to do so.

    Otherwise, the best way to donate is to send a check to their address. I will post it below.

    Matter of Trust, Inc.
    99 St. Germain Avenue
    San Francisco CA 94114

  • Kiddo

    Good job, Mary! I’m inspired to cut my hair now and save some baby seals.

  • Scott

    This is a great idea. My daughter was actually just now planning to cut about 16 inches and sell it (there is an auction-type site that facilitates this). Helping out with this disaster would be so much better than just getting money for it.

  • karen,michigan

    I think this is a wonderful way to help.I do work in a salon, and I am deffinatley going to start saving hair to send..

  • Ashley

    I work for a salon as well and we plan on donating our hair to this cause!

  • Josie

    So wheres the information where you tell us where to send out hair? fucking pointless article w/o that infoirmation dummies

  • MaryManatee

    You cannot send the hair yourself. You must first donate to a salon, who will then donate it to Matter of Trust. The mailing information for salons is on the Matter of Trust website. However, personal donations or hair are not acceptable.

  • Sara

    You do not have to make a money donation. You CAN send your hair without going to a salon!!

    You can send your donations in by individual.

    It is part of the Matter of Trust. It’s such a great cause. Do it!

  • Calista

    By the way, Josie, if you read the comments the information is in the 3rd one….. -_-. Anyway, ill definitely try this! I’d love to help anyway i can!

  • jamie

    could we send cash?

  • Tina

    does anyone know where i can send the hair clipping to I work in a salon and we have a ton of hair to donate but no address from matter of trust. Can anyone help?

  • Sandra

    Can u tell me the address for donating my hair