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Bayview Corner salon donates hair for oil spill

Brittney DeMartini of La Salon Bella clips Molly Cook
Brittney DeMartini of La Salon Bella clips Molly Cook's hair. She will send Cook's discarded locks, along with boxes of others, to help with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup project.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / The Record

Water and oil don’t mix.

But oil and hair do.

Brittney DeMartini, owner of La Salon Bella at Bayview Corner, has joined a growing army of clippers across the country who are sending out boxes of shorn locks to help clean up the massive oil spill off America’s southern coast.

DeMartini started filling boxes with freshly cut hair at her salon last week.

“It’s something we do anyway,” DeMartini said. “And how often do you get to help save the world?”

An explosion aboard a British Petroleum oil-drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20 killed 11 crew members and then sank, leading to what’s been called the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history. Hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil have been spilled, and a massive oil slick continues to spread along the Louisiana coastline.

The hair from La Salon Bella will be sent to one of the 19 warehouses accepting donations in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida through the nonprofit organization, Matter of Trust.

According to Matter of Trust’s Web site, participating salons are sweeping up their hair clippings into plastic garbage bags and reusing the large boxes they get from shampoo deliveries to mail hair to the donation site.

Donations are coming from donors throughout the United States and Canada, and thousands of volunteers have signed up for “stocking stuffer” parties where the hair is stuffed into recycled nylons and tied together in tube-like shapes to form hair booms that will be used to soak up the oil.

DeMartini and Bristol Bloom, her fellow stylist at La Salon Bella, said customers have been eager to help.

“One gentleman, who has been growing his hair long to donate to a wig program for cancer patients, decided his pony tail was needed now, so he donated it,” DeMartini said.

“When people come in and donate their hair, we say, ‘You’ve saved a duck today.’”

It’s a simple, low-tech solution about which everyone at La Salon Bella is enthusiastic.

“We get to do our part and that’s cool,” DeMartini said.

Hair has been used to soak up oil spills in the past.

“You shampoo your hair because it gets greasy. Hair is very efficient at collecting oil out of the air, off surfaces like your skin and out of the water, even petroleum oil,” said Phil McCrory, an Alabama barber and the inventor of the “hairmat,” mats made from human hair clippings which have been used successfully for other spills.

Matter of Trust is creating hair booms to get the hair to the gulf quickly. It is also accepting animal fur.

DeMartini said her salon will continue to gather donations of hair to help.

“So far we’ve filled one box,” DeMartini said. “Our goal is to fill 10 boxes and send them in.”

To find out more about donating hair to Matter of Trust, click here.

To donate hair through La Salon Bella, call 321-6030.

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