Salon owner doing her part to clean up oil spill

Skye Kinkade
Nancy Gandrau, owner of Haircuts! in Mount Shasta, stands with the many bags of hair she has collected for recycling. She plans to send them to the non-profit group “Matter of Trust,” which will use it to make mats and booms to help absorb oil currently leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.

As hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil seep into the Gulf of Mexico, Nancy Gandrau, owner of Haircuts! in Mount Shasta, is doing her part to help clean it up.

Gandrau has been collecting hair trimmings to be recycled into hairmats and makeshift booms which will be used to absorb and contain the spilled oil, she said.

It’s all a part of a program run by the San Francisco based non profit organization, Matter of Trust.

“I always say that I’m going to rid the world of garbage one hair at a time,” joked Gandrau, who’s been collecting hair for the last year, long before BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, causing a massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

Because hair is adsorbent (which means it clings to substances, unlike absorbent, which means to soak up) it is efficient at collecting oil out of the air or water.

The hair Gandrau donates will be stuffed into recycled nylons or tights to be made into booms, she explained.

There are over 370,000 hair salons in the United States, and each accumulates about a pound of hair a day, the Matter of Trust website states. Though most of that is put into landfills, it is all recyclable.

Some of the hair Gandrau collected over the past year was given away to people for use in their gardens. The clippings are supposed to keep deer and other animals out, and keratin (the protein hair is made of) is good fertilizer. It also prevents weed growth and snail infestation and reduces water evaporation by up to 50 percent.

In addition to emergency oil spills, hair mats are also  efficient for absorbing drippings during oil changes or under leaky cars, machinery and pipelines, the website states.

Gandrau is encouraging  fellow cosmetologists,  barbers and pet groomers to participate in the Matter of Trust program, especially now, with the great need. “It’s not difficult... I?have a special bin that specifically for hair clippings,” she said.

Any type of hair, whether it’s curly, straight, dyed, permed or straightened is accepted, as well as any type of fur or wool waste.

Anyone who has unwanted nylons or tights is encouraged to drop them off at Haircuts! which is located at 217 N. Mt. Shasta Boulevard.

Though Gandrau will be sending the hair clippings and donated nylons regardless of the cost, she said she’s willing to accept monetary donations of any amount to help with the  price of shipping to the Matter of Trust facility in Missouri.

To contribute or for more information, call Gandrau at 926-5666, or go the Matter of Trust website at