By Kim Weisberg

You know about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. You may even be sick of hearing about it. I know that every time I hear an update, I feel increasingly discouraged and helpless; if you can’t fly to the frontlines and you don’t have money to donate, it can feel easier just to shake your head, sigh, and hope for the best.  But this oil is not going anywhere, and a wonderful San Francisco-based organization called Matter of Trust has a very simple way that you can help.

Matter of Trust collects hair (both human and animal), wool and nylons and turns it all into mats and booms that absorb oil.

Do you work in a salon? Do you take your pet to a groomer? Do you have a favorite hair stylist with a heart of gold?  Please consider sharing this information, and asking them to consider making a donation of hair or fur — did you know that 300,000 pounds of hair and fur are cut daily in the US? Me neither. Now that I know, I want to spread the word and see if we can’t put some of our otherwise wasted hair to good use.

For some very startling statistics (for example, 726 million gallons of oil are spilled annually on average), a demonstration of the mats and booms in action — and more information on how you can help — check out the 3.5 minute video above.

While this problem will obviously not be solved overnight, we can all help be a part of the solution and protect marine life, our shores and our planet.

Update [5.26.10]: Associated Press is reporting that engineers will not use booms made out of hair to soak up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Charlie Henry of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said booms made from hair became water-logged and sank within a short period of time. Organizations collecting hair are being asked to stop doing so.

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