Friday, April 24, 2009

Your Hair Can Help The Environment

When Mom first told me about this idea I thought it was a little crazy, but I agreed to look into it to see if it was for real. It is and I think it is a great idea. This is definitely something all of us (pugs included) can get involved in to help the planet.

Matter of Trust is a nonprofit that matches businesses' donations to smaller, needy nonprofits. It began a cutting edge donation program in 2000 that collaborates with thousands of salons around the U.S. as well as abroad, that donate their hair clippings to help soak up oil spills. Lots of oil spills occur each year, but you don't necessarily hear about them because most are not that high profile. Each and every oil spill has an impact on the environment and must be cleaned up right after it happens, but how exactly do you clean up an oil spill?

Phil McCrory, a hair stylist Alabama, first discovered how hair could help with oil spills while watching news coverage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. He noticed how the fur on Alaskan sea otters were completely soaked with oil. Instead of just watching in horror and sympathizing with the little guys, he began testing how much oill he could collect by just using the hair clippings from his salon. Viola - a great idea was born! He invented a hairmat that could be used to clean up oil spills, but that can only be used by flower growers due to hair providing a slow release protein.

According to their website, the U.S. has over 300,000 hair salons and each cuts an average of a pound of hair a day. Wow! Salons, schools, and even individuals can participate in the hairmat program. Donations from salons or groups work best because hair in bulk saves on processing time. Donated hair can be any length or type, but it must be clean. They even accept pet hair, and though it doen't work as human hair, dog groomers can still participate in the program.

Hair is shipped to a warehouse in San Francisco that Matter of Trust shares with San Francisco Carpet Recycling. This great partnership combines resources, reuse, and even provides green collar jobs. Once at the warehouse, loose hair is stuffed into nylon stockings which they double up and tie together to make "booms" that surround and contain, as well as soak up oil spills. They also send hair to nonwoven needlepunch factories to make the hairmats that are used for emergency oil spills and for oil bird and mammal cages. They are continuously fundraising to purchase their own needlepunch machine so that they can make hair mats. With this machine, they can provide jobs and training to at risk youths transitioning out of foster care.

How can you get involved? Please tell your hair salon owner and/or dog groomer about the program. Give them the website and ask them to join the program. For teachers or for those with children in school, please contact the school to start a collection program. This program provides the opportunity to teach so many educational messages to young people everywhere. The more I learned about this program, the more I understood the need for it. We need to help all living creatures and this is just about the easiest way to do it. We may never end oil spills, but we can help clean them up. Like Mom always says, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Be part of the solution today by getting involved in Matter of Trust.


Rachel said...

amazing. People are so smart. I mean, really - who would have thought of that?

Pearl said...

Stubby, that's just amazing! I had never even thought of that! I need to tell Momma to start collecting my fur... even though I am not exactly sure it's clean... :)

Stubby said...

Hi Rachel - Thanks for stopping by. I agree that some people are so smart. I would never have thought of this, but then again I am not a person. Mom knows that the birdies like my fur for their nests, but to use it to clean up oil spills? Brilliant!
Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hey Pearly Poo - If we all start collecting our hair to send to them, we would need a big truck to get it there because we shed so much. I guess since the fur needs to be cleaned, we would need baths. Uh-oh, maybe Mom can just send her hair.
Stubby xoxo