Pet Hair Donated for Oil Spill
Pet groomers across the country are joining pet retailers, beauticians and even alpaca farmers in donating hair, fur, fleece and feathers to mop up millions of gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, following the massive oil spill that continued to plague the region at press time.
“Pet hair is an absorbent and can be used to create oil-absorbing mats,” said Heidi Ganahl, chief executive officer and founder of Camp Bow Wow (Boulder, Colo.), a pet service company that asked its more than 200 North American franchises to collect fur for the cause.
Technically, hair is adsorbent—which means oil clings to it, rather than being soaked up by it, according to hairstylist and oil spill hair mat inventor Phil McCrory on the Web site for Matter of Trust, the ecological group spearheading the hair and fur collection.
“Hair is very efficient at gathering oil, skin oils off your face, oil pollution out of the air, and water, even petroleum oil spills,” McCrory said.
The San Francisco-based nonprofit has organized volunteers to stuff donated hair into long tubes of nylon to replicate McCrory’s boon design in an attempt to separate oil from the Gulf’s waters.
The movement has united shops of all sizes, from independents like Minneapolis-based Dreadlocks for Dingoes, to regional chains like the six Kennelwood Pet Resorts (St. Louis) and Camp Bow Wow, on up to national chains like Petco (San Diego).
Animal-related organizations, including zoos and aquariums, and key federal agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, were partnering in animal rescue and rehabilitation efforts for the Gulf’s wildlife.
“Accredited zoos and aquariums have a unique expertise with animals that can support the clean-up effort,” said Jim Maddy, president and chief operating officer of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Silver Spring, Md.). “Many zoos and aquariums already have animal rescue and rehabilitation programs in place, and their trained personnel and existing infrastructure are being made available to help with the oil spill response.”
The oil spill, caused by a ruptured well, eclipsed the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster as the nation’s worst oil spill. At press time, as much as 25,000 barrels of oil a day were pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. [July 2010 PET AGE]
Lots of locks sent to fight an oily mess
Salons and pet groomers in Minnesota are joining the effort to ship hair to the Gulf Coast.
A charitable endeavor taking off in Minnesota gives new meaning to the term “greasy hair.”
Nearly 200 hair salons and pet groomers are collecting their customers’ hair — or fur — and shipping it to warehouses along the Gulf Coast. There, it’s being stuffed into mesh booms that are slated to be dropped along beaches to absorb the ever-spreading oil slick from an offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
Thousands of hairdressers across the country are participating in this campaign-gone-viral launched by a San Francisco-based nonprofit called Matter of Trust. Minnesota, as usual, is one of the states with the highest number of participants, ranging from the upscale Aveda salons to exotic pet groomers such as “Dreadlocks for Dingoes.”
“We’re filling up our first box right now,” said Kassie Kuehl, owner of the Kasia Organic Salon in Minneapolis, as she clipped a thick head of red hair.
“We have nothing else to do with the hair, so we may as well put it to good use.”
Kuehl, like other stylists now diligently sweeping the locks under their chairs, learned about the project through e-mails from Matter of Trust. The nonprofit is well known among the environmentally active sector of the hair salon industry, said Evan Miller, spokesperson for the Blaine-based Aveda Corp.
Matter of Trust has been making mesh booms for a decade, touting what program leaders say is human hair’s special ability to quickly and efficiently soak up large amounts of oil.
Aveda’s 3,500 salons have donated hair for earlier collections, according to Katie Galloway, director of Aveda’s corporate giving. After the April 20 BP disaster, Galloway said, she went online to see what the organization was up to.
“I saw they had all these collection points along the Gulf Coast, so I sent a message to our salons and asked them to send their clippings there,” she said.
So far, 192 salons and groomers in Minnesota have signed on as donors, said Tyler Young, a volunteer at Matter of Trust. The small nonprofit has burst into the public spotlight with its hair-raising campaign, drawing support from as far away as Canada and Australia.
“Our voice mail fills up every few minutes,” Young said.
But the hair booms — which look like giant sausages — have never been up against nearly 4 million gallons of oil. No one is under the illusion they will stop the oil slick. But Minnesota donors say its feels better to do something small than do nothing at all.
At Dreadlocks for Dingoes in south Minneapolis this week, Lisa Rojas stood over a table grooming a black terrier, the snippets of wavy hair gathering at her feet. When she finished, she vacuumed the fur into a large red vacuum cleaner that has become her fur storage area.
“There’s 50 dogs’ worth of hair in there,” Rojas said.
Rojas said she’s been donating fur from her Minneapolis grooming business to Matter of Trust for years.
On Tuesday, Rojas emptied her vacuum cleaner, stuffed the fur into a plastic bag and shipped it to one of the warehouses collecting the stuff.
In addition, she sent out e-mails to her customers and friends, asking them to donate panty hose and nylon stockings, which are stuffed with hair to create the booms.
All this happens at warehouses along the Gulf Coast, where Matter of Trust has organized stocking stuffer parties — dubbed “Boom-BQs.”
It’s unclear how many of the booms have been used and where. Although not part of the official cleanup effort, some local volunteers have vowed to deploy the hair-filled mats on their own. On the national level, the website of Lisa Gautier, the president of Matter of Trust, informs readers that the group has been so swamped with calls that “Our phones are blowing out.”
The fate of any oil-drenched booms also is unclear.
“I’m not sure what they do with the booms after they’ve absorbed the oil,” Rojas said. “But at least the oil is out of the water.”
Waste oil from spills is commonly burned. Matter of Trust has been experimenting with ways to get rid of the oily hair in an environmentally friendly way, according to its website. One experiment involved detoxifying the hair and using earthworms to decompose it. Another involved tapping the power of mushrooms and fungus to clean it.
But Gautier has said that it would be BP’s responsibility to collect them as part of the cleanup.
The Minnesotans participating in this campaign say the effort is double eco-friendly. It offers a place, other than a landfill, for the mountains of hair clippings they produce each week.
“After the oil spill, you just want to help,” Koehl said. “This is a great idea.”
Send your pet’s hair to the gulf coast!
Southwest Journal Readers
As a nation, we are doing what we can to help with the recent oil spill in the Gulf. Dreadlocks for Dingoes, a Southwest pet groomer, is donating saved hair for the manufacturing of “hair mats and booms.” If you don’t already know, hair has the wonderful property of absorbing oil very quickly and extremely efficiently. Your donated nylon stockings are used to create booms that can soak up and block the expansion of oil.
Any donated nylon stockings sent to the address below will be forwarded to the company that manufactures the “hair mats and stocking booms” to the gulf coast.
I want to thank all of you who have so kindly donated nylons and boxes for the oil clean up in the gulf. Keep them coming.
I also wanted to share a few statistics with you. Every year, 2,600 oil spills occur, 726 million gallons of oil are spilled annually and 363 million gallons are washed into the oceans. Fifty percent of oil in our waterways is from people illegally dumping used motor oil and one quart of oil can contaminate one million gallons of drinking water.
Additionally, 300,000 pounds of hair and fur are cut daily.
The first step of cleaning up this catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf starts with you. Each and every one of you who brings their pet into Dreadlocks for Dingoes is helping in the most dramatic way. I am only as much help as you allow me to be. Your pet’s hair is a valuable reusable natural resource that will not be discarded. You can contribute, in a huge way. Please call for an appointment and be a part of this world wide effort.
KSTP Channel 5 News
St. Paul Hopes Park Redevelopment Plan Brings People to Lowertown Riverfront