Oil Spill Booms Made of Hair

Volunteers made booms of hair, fur, fleece and feathers for use in the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but BP officials say, "No thanks!"

Oil Spill Booms Made of Hair

Oil Spill Booms Made of Hair

Booms are being made of hair, fur, fleece and feathers for use in the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Matter Of Trust, established in 1998, is an ecological public charity. They concentrate on manmade surplus, natural surplus and eco-education. Their website describes their mission as to “link ideas, spark action and materialize sustainable systems. We like to mimick how Mother Nature integrates enduring cycles and provides access to necessities in abundance. We concentrate on manmade surplus, natural surplus and eco-educational programs. The results are worthwhile, common sensical and often enchanting.”

People around the world want to help clean up the Gulf:

“So much fiber (hair, fur, fleece & feathers) has been generously donated from every city in North America and beyond to our 19 warehouses that we can now make over 25 miles of boom! We have asked all of our participants to keep fibers ready to ship on hand and to wait for us to make room. We are working through the tens of thousands of boxes we have. The generosity of the over 45,000 businesses and thousands of individuals is really tremendous! Now it’s time to get all the booms made and start soaking up the oil!”

Alpaca Hair Stocking Stuffers

Alpaca Hair Stocking Stuffers

Even Alpaca Breeders are getting involved!

“The Alpaca Breeders of America have found another great use for their fiber in a rapidly growing textile industry. High grade fiber which is used for felted mats and landscape products are being diverted to the Gulf Oil Spill crisis. Shearing season is in full force and both llama and alpaca breeders are answering the call.” Larry Vallozzi, President Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America, Inc.

Expert comments

Riki Ott, PhD, Marine Toxicologist, Author and Exxon Valdez Oil Spill expert – “The oil industry’s approach is to use oil based synthetic products to respond to oil spills. After use, this results in mountains of contaminated material that need to be landfilled or incinerated. This creates a secondary pollution problem. At least with hair booms and hair mats, natural material is used that breaks down faster and releases less toxins when incinerated or landfilled. They even have a chance at being composted with bacteria. To suggest that any possible shedding of natural fibers into the gulf are a problem, pales in comparison to methods using hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic industrial solvents. The benefits of removing oil waste with natural fibers largely outweighs the minimal immediate risk to the environment. Also they reduce the secondary pollution concerns that come with using oil based products, such as only synthetic boom and dispersants.”

How it works:

You shampoo because hair collects oil. That means it can collect petroleum oil spills too. Over 300,000 pounds of hair are cut each day in the US and not to mention all the clippings from pet groomers. Here is a little film about the Matter of Trust “Oil Spill Hair Mats Program:”


The music is “Via Con Me” by Paolo Conte and the seal photo is courtesy of Deus Ex Malcontent.

So, what is the problem?

While this may not clean up the entire Gulf, this does sound like a great way to help, right? Well, not so fast. On May 21, 2010, Matters of Trust received official word from Ronald D. Ryvarczyk, BP Government & Public Affairs that, “they have a plentiful supply of synthetic boom for their needs and will not be in want of donated boom or renewable fiber.” Still as May ended hundreds of volunteers were making thousands of booms all along the Gulf Coast. Supplies will only be given to “official government haz mat teams that have hazardous waste disposal plans in place. We are an environmental charity and would not risk oily boom being left out without proper disposal. BP Public Affairs has told us they have enough of their own boom. And Matter of Trust is now in contact with local parishes and counties in the Gulf States. The question is not whether the boom will ever get used, but if responsible parties will take all clean up materials now and pay for haz waste disposal so that cash strapped communities don’t have to pay out of pocket. We will let everyone know as soon as officials take the hair boom.”

In their latest press release, dated June 11,2010, Matters of Trust is “still accepting sign-ups so that donors are at the ready to help send fiber for local and large scale emergency spills.”


  1. tommylee

    Last I heard about the hair boom is that the hair booms first need to be tested if they are environmentally friendly!?! I guess that's bureaucracy for you.

  2. tommylee

    Last I heard about the hair boom is that the hair booms first need to be tested if they are environmentally friendly!?! I guess that's bureaucracy for you.

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