By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Cleaning up the Gulf Coast oil spill could be as simple as getting a haircut.
Several Northeast Mississippi salons and groomers have joined an international effort to make oil-absorbent hair booms.
Loose hair and fur collected here will be sent to Matter of Trust, a nonprofit organization in California that stuffs it into nylons, covers it in mesh and releases it into the Gulf of Mexico.
Last month’s offshore oil rig explosion has unleashed some 200,000 gallons of oil daily into the water. It threatens the coastline, its animals and the tourism industry.
Because hair absorbs oil and because it’s an abundant resource, the group has solicited help from stylists, groomers and even sheep farmers across the globe.
“It’s an international philanthropic community phenomenon,” according to the website for Matter of Trust.
Calls and e-mails sent to the group were not returned. A note on the website said widespread press on the effort has overwhelmed the phone lines.
Sarah McDonald, owner of Creative Touch Day Spa & Salon in Tupelo, was among the first to sign up after hearing about it from the beauty supply manufacturer Aveda.
For the past two weeks, McDonald and her staff have swept hair trimmings into a special bin dedicated to the cause.
The salon also will accept hair and fur clippings from other businesses, as well as individuals. McDonald plans to send a large shipment in the coming days.
Clients generally don’t know their hair is going to the Gulf Coast, McDonald said, but those who do expressed appreciation.
“The oil spill seems so far away and you think you can’t do anything about it from here,” Tupelo resident Margaret Stanzell said while having her hair done Tuesday morning. “So I think it’s great that we can help by doing something so simple.”
Also participating is Avenue West Hair Salon in Oxford. Owner Gregg Lancaster began collecting hair after an individual promised to pick it up and ship it.
Many of his clients also have asked about it, he said.
“It’s not like we do anything with the hair,” said Avenue West stylist Kelly Sawyer. “Instead of just throwing it away, it’s nice to send it to a good cause.”
Sawyer said the salon fills one tall kitchen bag of hair each week. Lee Ann Holloway of Tupelo’s Pampered Pooch said she stuffs six 30-gallon bags weekly.
All colors and textures of dog fur spilled over the side of a small garbage can at the shop Tuesday as Holloway sheared a fluffy Bichon Frise.
Holloway joked that the clippings from her salon alone could mop up the oil spill. Gus the Bichon just wagged his tail.
Pampered Pooch and PetSmart joined the effort immediately after hearing about it. Both Holloway and PetSmart groomer Michelle Bryant said they’d rather donate the fur than toss it in the garbage.
“It’s a great cause,” Bryant said.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (661) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donate hair and fur
- A San Francisco-based nonprofit organization called Matter of Trust is collecting clean hair and fur to make into oil-absorbent booms. They’ll help sop up oil spilled along the Gulf Coast. To learn more or to donate, visit