Saturday, March 8, 2008

Greasy Hair Clean Up

When I was little I lived for a while in Bowdoin, Maine. My mom built a sweet little house in the middle of 17 acres of woods -- our firewood came from the trees, our corn came from the garden and out water came from a well in the front yard.

Well water. We had a hand pump -- I don't remember what it was used for -- but I do remember the endless up and down with that noise of rubbing the metal against metal -- I think it was red. Inside we did have running water -- but it was often cold, and there were always concerns about it running out. Showers were rationed.

This was a traumatic thing at the time. I kept my hair long like Joan Jett -- and spent hours curling the front pieces with the iron that doubled as a microphone when Genella came over. But the effect was entirely undermined when my hair was greasy. My hair was often very greasy. As in embarrassing greasy -- as in, don't make me go to school like this greasy - as in, there is absolutely nothing redeeming about it.

I was reminded of this in my search for stories about oil...

Turns out hair's affinity to oil is the basis of a grass roots oil spill operation in California.

A grass roots organization "A Matter of Trust" used mats made out of human hair to clean up the oil spill in San Francisco last year.

I first read about this last year -- now for some reason the original information isn't available anymore -- so -- at the risk of my memory failing, the hair mats were first designed by Phil McCory (his photo's still on the website) as small mats of mulch for potting plants -- and later applied to the oil spill.

After the mat has been soaked, Matter of Trust covers them with oil eating mushrooms.

Photos from Matter of Trust website.

Last the mat are composted.

"The mission of Matter of Trust is to Link ideas, spark action and materialize sustainable systems. We like to mimick how Mother Nature integrates enduring cycles and provides access to necessities in abundance. We concentrate on ecological and educational programs for manmade and natural surplus. The results are worthwhile, common sensical and often enchanting."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the mushrooms were not effective in remediating the oil soaked hair mats. The bunker c oil was too toxic for the mushrooms to survive. A new technique is currently being studied at the Presidio using thermophilic composting and vermicomposting. So far, the technique has been very effective in bioremediating the oily hair mats. I think the research is being led by Thomas Azwell at UC Berkeley.