Hair stylists in Middle Georgia are sweeping up hair that will be used to soak up the spreading oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico.
Donators are part of a larger project organized by Matter of Trust, a charity organization operating out of San Francisco. Matter of Trust collects hair, nylon and mesh from businesses nationwide and weaves the clippings into hair booms — nylon tubes stuffed with hair — and mats used to absorb oil.
“It’s just really gained popularity in this area,” said Wanda Blair, a stylist at Styles Unlimited on Vineville Avenue. “Every single day we throw away a lot of hair, and to see it used in a helpful way, why would you not? You’re throwing it in the trash anyway.”
Participating salons have been collecting clippings to ship to Florida. Salons are able to donate hair from all trimmings, as Matter of Trust accepts hair regardless of length, past color treatments or ethnicity.
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Some salons have created events designed to draw in as many donors as possible. Signature Salon and Spa in Macon is hosting a “hair trimming kickoff, cocktail party and silent auction” Thursday.
“I really like this in particular because there’s not a minimum hair requirement. You can give even if you’re just coming in for a trim,” said Nichole Mitchell, owner of Signature Salon and Spa. “And when I tell (customers) that the hair they’re donating is going toward soaking up oil in the Gulf, they tell me ‘Oh you can do a little more then, if it’s for a good cause.’ ”
Other salon owners said customer response about the program has been positive and has sparked interest among clients.
“I had a client yesterday, and I was telling her about it, and she said ‘That is amazing,’ ” said Wendy Hunnicutt, salon manager at Matthew Caleb Salon in Warner Robins. “She thought it was wonderful that we would do something like that, that we would put the thought into doing something like that.”
Matter of Trust has been making hair mats to aid in oil spills since 2000.
But the company started producing hair booms in reaction to the Gulf Coast oil spill caused by an oil rig explosion that occurred April 20. The Associated Press reports that at least 200,000 gallons of oil have been pouring into the Gulf of Mexico each day since the incident.
The spill has created concerns among environmental officials for ecosystems in the affected area. Many cite concerns about wildlife in the Gulf as their reasons for participating.
“I was just trying to save the animals. The whales, and the dolphins and the ducks. I felt bad for them. I’m an animal lover,” said Jessica Collum, assistant at Serenity Salon and Spa in Warner Robins. “But everyone else was participating for their own reasons, which I’m not sure of.”
Some pet grooming salons and farms in the midstate are also donating to the program. Northside Wesleyan Animal Hospital in Macon started collecting animal hair two weeks ago for the Matter of Trust program.
“We’ve got three groomers. And then veterinary technicians that perform operations, they also collect the hair when they have to shave animals that are getting a procedure performed,” said Denice Parker, a grooming stylist at Wesleyan Animal Hospital. “It’s marvelous to be able to volunteer and give back.”
The response from donors has caused Matter of Trust to wait-list several potential donors. Some salons in the area are collecting hair while waiting for Matter of Trust to acquire additional warehouses. Mitchell, however, said Signature Salon and Spa would continue to collect hair throughout the summer, even after the oil spill crisis has subsided.
“Matter of Trust donates to other oil spills, so just because this one is so close doesn’t mean it’s the only one we can contribute to,” Mitchell said.
To contact writer Tiffany Stevens, call 744-4213.