Local stylists join effort to fight oil spill fight

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 8, 2010



LAPLACE – A group of St. John the Baptist Parish area salons have joined together to execute a hairbrained scheme that could go a long way toward fighting back the oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.

Stylists from 12 salons in LaPlace are stockpiling hair clippings to be used as stuffing for nylon containment booms that can soak up oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion site. Tangela Jochum, a stylist at Snippers Salon said she jumped at the chance to get involved after watching a news report about an environmental organization that is spearheading the hair collection in New Orleans.

“I just thought it was something so simple that anyone could participate,” Jochum said. “When we cut hair it has to be separated from regular trash anyway, so why not put it to good use.”

According to Matter of Trust, the San Francisco based environmental charity doing the collections in New Orleans, the ridged texture that helps hair sop up natural skin oils also makes it effective at capturing crude. The group first started collecting hair 10 years ago, after a series of small spills tied to a 2007 oil spill in the Bay area.

“It’s the reason we need to shampoo our hair daily,” Jochum said. “It’s a magnet for oils and oily hair repels water.”

According to the group’s website, Matter of Trust has been able to accumulate more than 400,000 pounds of clean human and animal hair (dog, cat, sheep and horse hair works too) from salons and groomers nationwide. The hair is being stockpiled at warehouses along the gulf coast waiting to be stuffed into nylon containment tubes made from recycled pantyhose.

Lisa Gauthier, founder of Matter of Trust, said the group has increased its volunteer and donation pool from 35,000 to 90,000 over the past week. Jochum said the influx can be attributed to the simplicity of the idea.

“Everyone wants to do their part before things get worse,” Jochum said. “Many of the salons we contacted said they have already begun hair stockpiles for that very reason.”

Jochum said Snippers Salon on Carrollwood Drive has been designated the central drop off point for hair donations from all of the salons. She said she plans to make weekly trips every Monday down the New Orleans drop off point at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

“We plan to do it as long as it takes,” Jochum said. “There is an endless supply of hair out there and it should be put to good use.”