Look around your home. Do you see fine feline or canine hairs coating the couch, the floor or your clothes? Before you break out the lint roller, consider that all that excess animal hair in your living room could be floating on the Gulf of Mexico, absorbing harmful oil.
Hair — from humans and animals — is woven or stuffed into sponge-like mats and booms that are flung onto the oil spill. The hairy barriers are laid near shores and marshes, helping to protect these fragile ecosystems from the ravages of the spill.
Local salons and charities have been requesting that good Samaritans donate their hair to help absorb the oil seeping toward the gulf coast. While human hair does absorb oil, many humans are loath to part with their locks.
That’s where pet hair comes in.
California charity Matter of Trust requests that you send them bags of household sundries — from pet fur to fleece to feathers to nylons — so that they can construct hair-booms and hair-mats that float the gulf coast absorbing harmful oil.
Before you shave your pet for charity, take a look at their requirements: at the moment Matter of Trust is at capacity for storing pet hair and nylon and asks that willing donators collect a box of natural fibers, which will be needed in the coming months. So far, the charity has seen donations from Japan, the U.K. and all over the United States.
Locally, former Annapolis mayor Ellen Moyer is hoping to organize an Annapolitan pet hair collection branch for hometown donations.
“Every day I hear people feeling helpless,” Moyer said about the oil spill. “There’s not too much we can do as individuals to make a difference. Collecting hair is something we can do to protect the wetlands, even if it’s not for this oil spill.”
Hair booms and mats would be useful to our Bay even after the Gulf of Mexico is cleaned, according to Moyer.
“I would suspect that the mats could be used in fragile type places near storm drains,” says Moyer, who believes that the mats would absorb oil and other toxic products that often seep into the Bay. “So it would seem to me that this is a simple way to volunteer and help.”
But for now, Moyer is a woman with a plan that needs a warehouse.
“To organize for a collection here, there needs to be a warehouse component,” she says. “If someone steps forward with a warehouse, then I’m willing to partner with them and do some of the legwork.”
To make a difference, keep a grocery bag nearby the next time you brush your dog. Put all excess hair in the bag and store it , checking with the website for donation requests. If you take your pet to a groomer, ask if the company donates the fur.
While Matter of Trust has plenty of hair at the moment, it still needs dollars. Donate funds to the charity so that it can continue to create new booms and transport them to the Gulf Coast. Your pet’s fur is rapidly becoming the coast’s last line of protection.
For more information and donation procedures: www.matteroftrust.org.