Hair a Renewable Resource Makes Oil Cleaning Mat










As we have learned in the, past human hair can be recycled and used to make many creative things such as art and even clothes, but did you know it could also be used to clean up oil spills? It's true.

Hair naturally absorbs oil from the air as well as water. It acts like a sponge. Phillip McCrory, a hairdresser from Alabama understood this idea and came up with the idea to use hair to clean up oil spills. His inspiration came after watching the 1989 news coverage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. He tested his theory out at home with hair clippings and some of his wife's pantyhose. When he saw how clear it left the water he was testing he took it to NASA to show them. NASA agreed that it worked. For more detailed information about read Phillip McCrory's idea and his US Patent 5453191 Issued on September 26, 1995 click here .

"As an added bonus, hair can be wrung out and used again, and the oil can be recovered as well" (CNN ).

Since then a program called Hair For Oil Spills one of the many Matter Of Trust programs conceived by Lisa Craig Gautier and Patrice Olivier Gautier was developed. The program began in 2000 and successfully continues today. To take a look at the rest of the Matter of trust programs click here .

How are all the hair clipping collected? Volunteers, individuals, hair salons, barbershops, etc., all mail their clean hair clippings donations to the program. The hair fibers are then woven into mats. The mats are then used to soak up oil from oil spills.

Since Phillip developed the wonderful oil absorbing hair idea, many new natural materials have been added to the hair mats to make them more absorbent, better or just to make more material to clean up oil spills. For example, in the Philippines in 2006 the Philippine Coast Guard asked for hair and chicken feathers (which also soak up oil well, but can leave a smelly mess afterwards) to help clean up the mess left from the sunken oil tanker, Solar I, chartered by Petron Corp .

Despite the good intentions behind this idea, there has been some concern that hair mats could be more harmful than good. How? If hair clippings are not washed properly before donating they could be contaminated with hair products (hair coloring, hair styling products etc) that could be harmful to the sea animals. In addition hair mats soaked in oil cannot simply be disposed of. This could create a toxic mess. The good news is that Matter Of Trust has taken further steps to improve the hair mats, how the hair mats are used and disposed of.

For example, in 2007, after the Cosco Busan Oil Spills, someone came up with the idea of adding mushrooms to the hair mats to help clean up the oil spill in San Francisco. The mushrooms, Oyster mushrooms to be exact are added to the hair mats after the hair mats have been used to absorb the oil. The mushrooms grow and absorb the oil. In about 12 weeks the mushrooms absorb all the oil and the hair mats are left clean and safe (nontoxic) to decompose.

Finally recycled human hair does something good for the environment. What do you think?

If you wish to donate hair to this program or would like to know more about the program visit the Matter Of Trust website .

Via Matter Of Trust