Monday, May 31, 2010

Make It a Hair Boomerang

While I found the hair boom movement a little silly, I wasn't planning to write anything about it. The people participating were well-intentioned, even if sending hair clippings to the Gulf coast to use in absorptive "booms" seemed to be one of those things people do so they can think they've made a difference in a terrible situation... rather than actually making a difference.

But now it's clear that the booms are not wanted -- and, in fact, don't even work for the intended purpose, yet the organizers are still encouraging salons to send hair to the Gulf.

According to several well-sourced articles, including one today in the Pioneer Press by Bob Shaw, the booms have been tested by the Coast Guard and found to sink. On May 21, the Coast Guard officially asked people and organizations to "discontinue the collection of hair."

Huge pile of hair booms in a warehouse

According to Shaw, "Even if the hair nylons could be used on shorelines, they require intensive manpower -- which is difficult to imagine on hundreds of miles of Gulf coastline. And volunteers aren't even allowed in most cleanup areas. Crude oil is toxic and can burn the skin. Trained workers are handling most of the job."

What do the folks who are organizing the drive have to say about this? If you're expecting them to say they'll stop, that's not what Shaw found. "We hope to make a big enough splash so BP will take them," said Lisa Gautier of Matter of Trust, the organizing group.

To use for what? As a sop for your conscience?

Shaw asked Gautier, "Is it deceptive to imply the hair will somehow help the Gulf oil crisis?" To which Gautier replied, in a classic non-answer, " 'Well, BP deceived us,'... The company, she said, initially showed interest in the hair-filled nylons, then changed its mind."

Possibly they changed their minds once they found out the hair booms don't work? Doesn't that seem reasonable?

Here's a thought: Why doesn't Matter of Trust organize all those salons to compost the hair right in their own hometowns, instead of shipping it via petroleum-fueled transport to the Gulf coast? Or even encourage them to arrange with local community gardens to pick up the hair for use as a soil amendment, without composting?

Nah, I guess, that would be too much work. It's easier to ship the hair off to a warehouse in Florida where it will never be used.


LashonJ_Greenblatt said...
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Carmella said...

Ha! I KNEW it! I was an early adopter of hair boom skepticism! Bark! I am so glad I didn't get shaved.