Carson hair salon joins oil clean-up efforts |

Carson hair salon joins oil clean-up efforts

by F.T. Norton
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

A Carson City salon is taking part in an international effort to help clean up a devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Gina Gann, of the J.C. Penney Salon, said Tuesday she received an e-mail telling her about a program through Matter of Trust, an environmental non-profit, in which human hair is used to make mats and booms that clean up and contain oil spills.

“I think it’s a really good idea. We just throw it out every single day, so I figured if everyone is sending in the hair and it helps with the oil spill, they can have it,” said Gann. “If it was in the newspaper, maybe all the hair salons in town would get together and start sending it in.”

According to its website, Matter of Trust is coordinating with thousands of hair salons around the world to collect hair clippings that will then be stuffed into nylon stockings or made into mats to aid in the removal of oil from the Gulf waters and beaches.

Phil McCrory, a hairstylist in Alabama, first came up with the idea in 1989 after watching news footage of an otter covered in oil from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Using a stocking stuffed with hair from his salon, McCrory filled a kiddie pool with water and motor oil, then dropped his creation in. Within two minutes, according to McCrory’s website, the water was crystal clear and the oil was contained in the hair. What made his discovery even more interesting was that McCrory was then able to wring out the oil, making the oil and mat reusable.

As engineers are trying to figure out how to stop the ever-flowing gusher that exploded on April 20 killing 11 oil rig workers, environmentalists are worrying about the ramifications of the toxic oil on the marine and shore life.

Gann sees her efforts as a small part of the big picture.

“I cannot imagine how much this will hurt the environment, fish, sea creatures and birds,” she said.

So for now, a clean, bag-lined trash can in the salon is labeled “Hair only,” and the stylists all put their sweepings there. Gann said J.C. Penney has agreed to pay for the postage to mail it to Matter of Trust.

“We are going to do our part in helping, we hope everyone else will join,” said Gann.