Alabama women fight Gulf Coast oil spill — with human hair

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
Font Size:

Two Alabama women have devised a creative way to combat the oil spill along the Gulf Coast — and all it takes is human hair, pantyhose and a PVC pipe.

Yes, really.

A pound of hair absorbs a quart of oil, says Amanda Bacon of Point Clear, Ala., so she and some friends are organizing an effort for people to give their own locks to make homemade “booms” to put into the waters to do just that.

Those who make booms can either take them to private properties or store them in a warehouse for donation to those along the Gulf Coast who may need them. “Wherever the oil goes, these will go,” Bacon told The Daily Caller.

The Mobile Press-Register explains how it works:

Here’s the basics of building a boom: Cut the legs off a pair of pantyhose, slip a leg piece of hose over a length of PVC pipe, stuff the pipe full of hair, then slip the pipe back out, leaving the hair inside the hose. The hose is closed at the open end with a twist tie.

A San Francisco non-profit, Matter of Trust, which produces small mats made of human hair is shipping thousands of pounds of donated locks from salons to Mobile for the effort. The booms, after absorbing oil in the Gulf of Mexico, will be picked up by BP contractors.

Bacon said they are still waiting on the first shipment of hair to come in. “We’re all sitting on ready.”

Bacon owns land on Mobile Bay, and first looked into making booms for her waterfront property to “find out what was absorbent for our beaches.” With research she found Matter of Trust, who helped make booms for an oil spill on San Francisco Bay. “You really make an impact because it just drinks the oil,” she said.

On, visitors can locate salons that will donate hair to the cause. The women, who are asking for donations of both hair and pantyhose, have set up a Facebook group about the effort.

“Your hands are tied. It’s a sit and wait,” Bacon said. “It’s just a way to make sure everyone feels like they’re contributing.”

The booms will not just be restricted to human hair. Bacon said animal hair is welcome too, and the area zoo in Gulf Shores, Ala. is sheering their alpaca, camels and sheep for the cause.

E-mail Alex Pappas and follow him on Twitter