Recycled hair helps clean up oil spills

KILDEER, Ill. The material is hair, specifically hair clippings. Ordinarily, it's nothing more than trash, but there are some people who are turning it into environmental treasure.

At Antonucci's Salon in north suburban Kildeer, believe it or not, they are harvesting a natural resource. They've actually found a way to put a beauty by-product to use. They've learned how to recycle hair.

Customer Cyd Glavich said, "It's fine by me. Take my hair. I'm not going to be doing anything with it."

That's precisely what the people who run the environmentally conscious spa were thinking. They had all this good, clean hair after all the shampoos and cuts, and they had nothing to do with it. Salon owner Marsha Antonucci decided to send the hair away to someone who could use it - and not just to make wigs or to fertilize plants.

"It's so simple," said Antonucci. "Just sweep it up, put it in a plastic bag, put it in a box and mail it to this magnificent company called 'Matter of Trust'."

That California company takes the hair, processes it and turns it into specialized mats which are then used to really clean up the environment.

"The hair mats are used to soak up oil spills," said Antonucci. "They literally send emergency hair mats when an oil spill has occurred."

Because hair attracts oil, marketing director Kathy Fearn added, "Then the hair mats can be reused again and used multiple times."

They send about eight pounds of the precious cargo to California every week. And it's doing more good for the planet than anyone there could have ever imagined.

"Isn't that something?" said Glavich. "To think that what's coming off your head is going somewhere to soak up oil and help the world situation. I think it's great."

Matter of Trust uses the money from selling the hair mats to help disadvantaged people.

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