Hair to the rescue

Hairstylist Kady Oliver sweeps cut hair toward a recycling container at the Verbena Salon on St. Philip Street. The salon is saving hair clippings and collecting nylons to be used to fight oil spills.

The freshly clipped hair falling unceremoniously to the floor at the Verbena Salon Friday may soon be used to sop up the crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

The St. Philip Street salon is one of many all over the country that donates cut hair to a national charity that can turn hair into mats or booms that naturally soak up oil. Anyone who's ever bought shampoo can relate.

"We have so much hair," Verbena Salon owner Wynne Sisk said. "We wanted to know what can we do to reuse this hair."

Sisk found A Matter of Trust through an Internet search. The organization

has long been using hair to help clean up oil spills.

The recycling idea was a natural extension for Sisk, who has always been mindful of running an environmentally friendly business.

The business is a drop-off point for recyclable, plastic caps. It also reuses the foil it uses for hair coloring.

Now it is also accepting recycled nylons that the hair is stuffed into.

"It's almost like a dreadlock-type mat that absorbs oil," Sisk said.

An average salon produces about a pound of hair a day, Sisk said. The salon's employees sweep up the hair and put it into a container. Once they have enough to fill a black garbage bag, they ship it to the charity.

The salon absorbs the cost of shipping, but "the impact on the environment is worth the cost to me," Sisk said.