Story by Pamela Price
This article appeared in the Leon Springs Community News (June 2010).
If you think about it, the notion makes complete sense. Human hair is both renewable and porous, making it potentially useful in mopping up that nasty oil out in the Gulf.
“I first learned that human hair is being collected for the spill from my Aveda representative’s email a few weeks ago,” said Jenifer Hokanson of Salon Soliel in The Boardwalk at Leon Springs. “I thought ‘Wow, what a great idea.’”
As the salon’s owner, Hokanson wasted no time in getting started. Near the shop’s entrance sits a wicker hamper lined with an ordinary kitchen trash bag. Inside are hair clippings collected from recent clients. Once collected and combined with more hair stashed in the back of the salon, the hair will be shipped out and woven into “hair mats,” also referred to as “booms.”
In May, Aveda began encouraging contributions to Matter of Trust, a San Francisco-based, and non-profit organization. The group regularly collects human hair—as well as animal fur and fleece–to create booms for oil spill clean-ups around the world. Matter of Trust also uses the social media site YouTube.com to illustrate how hair is collected and transformed into oil-sopping mops using nylon stockings.
While recent online and print media reports have BP resisting the booms in favor of petroleum-based booms in the Gulf spill, optimistic salon owners nationwide—including Hokanson—continue to gather hair. Meanwhile, according to a mass email sent on June 9 from Matter of Trust president Lisa Gautier to inquiring journalists, the organization continues to provide mats to Gulf Coast communities like Fairhope, Alabama and Fort Myers, Florida.
In other words, Central Texas hair clippings remain welcome on the coast.
“I’ve been saying to my clients upfront that we are involved in this project,” said Hokanson. “They really want to be a part of it–to do something.”
“My hair is already in the bag!” added client Lauri Harris cheerfully.
“When Jen talks to customers about it, some are a little surprised,” said aesthetician Genina Mery. “But then we explain how hair soaks up oil and that the more we collect, the more good we can do.”
“My sister just flew over the Gulf on a trip,” said junior cosmetologist Bethany Flores. “The spill is so big and so close, that it’s rather depressing. But maybe we can be a part of helping to fix it.”
Collecting hair for a good cause isn’t a new thing for Hokanson, who has helped clients prepare hair for various charities in the past. Take for instance Locks of Love, a national organization that uses human hair to create wigs for financially disadvantaged children experiencing long-term hair loss from a medical condition.
“For Locks of Love, the hair has to be a certain length and have no color treatments,” Hokanson said. “As much as I’ve enjoyed helping clients with that kind of effort, the hair collection for an oil spill is different. It’s really something everyone can do.”
With an eye to collecting more hair from area residents in the short run, Hokanson offers complimentary bang trims this summer for anyone interested in contributing to the cause.
“These are our people, you know, on the Gulf,” said Hokanson. “And they need our help.”