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Cleaning Up Oil Spills with Hair and Pantyhose


A local salon is collecting pantyhose and donating hair to help address the oil spill crisis in the Gulf. This may sound odd, but an ecological charity, Matter of Trust, has found that hair, fur, and other natural fibers are great absorbers of oil. They are collecting hair clippings and fur from salons and groomers around the country, and use these renewable resources to aid the oil spill relief efforts. KSMU’s Adam Murphy reports.

Karma Salon in Springfield is offering a discount to anyone who brings in new or clean used nylon pantyhose. These donations are part of an effort to clean oil spills using natural products. The pantyhose and the salon’s hair clippings are shipped to the ecological charity Matter of Trust, which has over a dozen locations in the Gulf of Mexico. Matter of Trust then creates what they call “hair booms.” Christy Boyle is owner and manager of Karma Salon. She describes how the booms are used in the oil spill relief efforts.

“They double-up the nylon, they use the hair clippings, and they can be any type of fiber they can be hair, they can be from animals, they can be wool, and they stuff them, and knot them and tie them together, and they make a barrier. And that barrier is able to contain the oil; they just found that hair was an efficient and abundant material to collect and contain the oil,” she said.

According to Matter of Trust’s website, the containment booms work because hair is not only a natural absorber of skin oils, it can also absorb crude oil efficiently and effectively.

Karma Salon has sent their hair clippings to Matter of Trust since they opened in 2006. Boyle says recently, Matter of Trust has been overwhelmed by the increase in donations in response to the Gulf oil spill crisis. Throughout the Gulf Coast, volunteers are trying to keep up with the needs of the crisis by hosting gatherings they are calling Boom-B-Qs to make hair booms and support Matter of Trust’s ecological solutions.

More information at or Karma Salon at (417) 887-0005.

For KSMU News, I’m Adam Murphy.