Condo Blues: I Donated My Hair to Clean Up the Gulf Cost Oil Spill

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I Donated My Hair to Clean Up the Gulf Cost Oil Spill

When I grew my hair long I had every intention of cutting it off and donating my hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for kids who have lost their hair.

I never managed to meet all of requirements when it came time to cut my hair.  I didn’t want to just send it in anyway because children's wig charities have to throw away thousands of unusable donated ponytails each year.

Not enough hair for a child's wig, but enough hair to donate to clean up an oil spill

Instead, I decided to donate my hair to Matter of Trust for them to weave into hair mats that are used to mop up oil spills.


Hair attracts oil and repeals water. They weave it into hair mats or stuff it into old nylons to make boons that are used to clean up oil spills. The good thing about using hair is that they can rinse the mats or boons and reuse them. Makes sense once you see an otter’s fur covered in oil.

Donating my hair to clean up an oil spill might be the most crunchy hippie treehugger thing that I’ve ever done. However, I think it’s important given the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. And besides, what I am going to do with my hair once it’s off my head anyway? I could recycle my hair by putting it in compost bin or I could sprinkle my hair in my flower bed to deter deer from eating my plants. However Blitzkrieg keeps the compost bin filled with dirty fur and I don’t have a deer problem.

What I do have, along with all of my American readers, is a horrific oil spill problem in the Gulf of Mexico. Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! They get to recycle my hair.

It’s kinda like my Gift of the Magi to the environment.

I imagine that even the most hardened not so hippie treehugger person watches the news about the oil spill and sees the thousands of people who depend upon the ocean for their livelihoods and wishes that they could do something to help. You can. Get a hair cut. Get your kids hair cut. Heck, take your dog to the groomer and get their fur cut and donate the clippings.

Here are the guidelines if you’d like to donate your hair or old nylons to be made into hair mats and boons to clean up oil spills. Obviously there is a great immediate need to help contain the Gulf Coast oil spill. Matter of Trust takes hair donations on an on-going basis, not just in times of emergency.

You can do a one time donation of your own hair or you can get a hair salon or dog groomer involved and make on going donations. The company that makes the hair mats also sells them to organic farmers to use to suppress weeds in their fields as an alternative to harmful chemical fertilizers.

Here are the hair donation guide lines.

  1. Your hair must be shampooed and dry. 
  2. Any length of hair and every type of head hair is fine (straight, curly, all colors, dyed, permed, straightened) 
  3. Every type of dog fur/waste wool is fine as long as it is clean. 
  4. Your donation does not have to be bundled in a ponytail or braid. Just sweep in all clippings, without other trash such as gum, metal clips, etc. and put it in a plastic bag inside a box for shipping. 
  5. They also accept washed, used/with runs nylon stocking donations to make the boons. You can put these donations in a separate bag in the same box with your hair donation. 
  6. They also accept other natural fibers such as horse hair, dog fur, feathers, and waste wool.
When I got my hair cut, I told my hairdresser that I wanted to save the clippings to donate to Matter of Trust. She didn’t think it was weird but I get my hair cut in one of the crunchier parts of the city. She only asked if she had to bundle my hair into a pony tail and cut it off – the answer is no. 

My hairdresser washed and cut my hair as usual. When she was finished she swept up the hair clippings and put them into the empty bread bag I brought with me for that purpose.

I signed up with Matter of Trust. They emailed me the address where I should mail my donated hair. Since there is an emergency oil spill clean up they are sending hair donations to be made into boons to multiple points along the Gulf Coast. If you donate now you will most likely get a different address than I did.

I trooped down to the Post Office and mailed my package. Easy!

In case you’re wondering, here’s the new ‘do.

Have you ever donated your hair to a worthy cause? Have you even considered it?

Update 5/5/10: I got an email from Matter of Trust (I'm on their mailing list now because of my donation) that said that Hanes is donating a bunch of nylons to be stuffed with donated hair and made into oil soaking bones to help clean up the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill. Very cool. Neither organization is  paying me to mention this. I saw it and thought you might want to know.

This is my post for the Green Moms Carnival, which is all about transportation hosted by Big Green Purse  Monday, May 10, 2010.


Anonymous said...

you cant be dumb enough to think that cutting your hair off will help the clean up! the oil spilled by valdez is still all over the sound and will be for life!this disaster should take about 4 million pounds of matting so far and another 20 million pounds of meltblown plastic booming so dont cut your hair off! just drive to capitol hill and explain to the idiot in charge of drilling regulations that the one million dollar remote shut off valve was probably a good idea!oh yea when you drive there try an electric or hydrogen car!

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

Anonymous - Driving a hydrogen car won't clean up an oil spill.


Anonymous said...

Geez.... so because the problem is huge, we shouldn't try to do a little bit to help? That's dumb.

Anonymous said...

Tiffany said...

Love this concept and organization! If I had hair to spare I would donate. :)

DownDoggin in MN said...

I think this is a great way to do a little something to help our environment. I had no idea that I could do this with my hair so I am very glad you took time out of your day to share this with your readers. It's about time for me to go in for a haircut and I will definitely be mailing mine in to help with oil spills. I can't think of any reason not to!

Jessica R. said...

I am so glad you mentioned this, I have never heard of the Matter of Trust organization and I am totally stoked to have found out about them. Especially because I'm about to get a haircut, it's summer time and I live in AZ, so it's a must.

I want to try and do something to help out with this oil spill, even if my donation is so miniscule that some may say it doesn't count, it counts to me and the fact that I know I'm at least trying instead of just complaining about it. It only takes one.

I also volunteer at the humane society of AZ and usually work with the adoptions at the PetSmart down the street, they have a grooming center so I think I'm going to talk to them about this and see if they would be interested to get on board.

Than you again. I love your blog.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

Jessica - I completely agree with you! I was taught that you can always do something to give back. If you don't have money you can always donate your time or old items. I wish I could jump in my car and drive down to help with the clean up but I can't. While my hair donation is small, it's something I can do besides complain about the situation. Besides, my hair was going to go in the trash anyway after I got it cut. Why not get a reuse out of it? Getting a dog groomer to donate would be fantastic!

Erika Jean said...

I've actually done this before. It was a long time ago... but I couldn't do locks of love becuase my hair had been dyed/bleached!

mudnessa said...

I looked into donating my hair. I have a bag I have been collecting from my very few trimmings for the past few years. Until this spill happened Matter of Trust was having warehouse issues so they weren't taking small donations.

I did try and sign up with them the other day but was a bit confused because when given the options of what I was wanting to donate I only saw 5 pound box as the smallest amount. Of course I am probably doing/reading something wrong, any suggestion on what I am doing wrong or not seeing since you went through the process already?

Thanks and I see a lot of blogs writing about this and it makes me happy. Spills are just devastating and any and every small thing helps in someway.

Lisa said...

Well I was going to wait to cut my hair until I lost some more weight but I think I may do it sooner because of this.

I think I will also take in some info on donating hair to see if I can get the salon to donate as well.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

mudnessa -I signed up earlier this week. It was confusing too. I filled out the on line form but wasn't sure if I did it correctly until I got an email the following day telling me where to send my hair. My hair is going to Florida.

Matter of Trust encourages large donations from salons and groomers than small donations from individuals since the need is so great and their volunteers along the Gulf don't have a lot of warehouse space to store it. But they didn't turn me away either.

KatieB said...

NPR has a great article about this and I wanted to share the link.

Donating hair is a good way to help.

Robj98168 said...

I love how the first gal to criticize name is Aninymous.
If I had known about this years ago I would have sent them all my hair before it fell out :,(

Kathleen W. said...

How admirable, even if it is a small gesture. It sickens me, hearing about the oil spill and feeling so helpless. If I had longer hair, I'd donate too.

Carrie said...

I lost almost all my hair due to chemotherapy these last few months (it's just barely, barely starting to grow back) and in shopping for a wig and talking to other patients, the nurses, and the social workers in the oncology department, I learned that human hair wigs have bad hair days and they all actually recommended I get an artificial wig instead so this cause may actually benefit more than cancer patients would from your hair.

mudnessa said...

Thanks for the reply. I actually got an address to send hair to today. So I will be sending off a small box of hair I have been collecting. Yay for helping.

Kristin - The Goat said...

I'm going to Gulf Shores, AL next week for a music concert. I keep wondering what it's going to be like when I arrive.

What a cool idea - and I'd have to agree, I hadn't heard of this organization before.

Kristin - The Goat said...

I totally forgot to tell you that your haircut is adorable! :)

Kim Moldofsky said...

I read this a bit too late for my recent haircut but will keep this in mind if I take anyone else for a snip soon. What an easy way to help!

ThePeachy1 said...

As a resident of the coast. Thanks for donating your hair. That's pretty brilliant. I will let you know if I see any human hair nets being used here.

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