Hair aware |

Hair aware

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The stories are similar wherever you are. After news spread about an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon – an off-shore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico – on April 20, which left 17 workers injured and 11 more missing and presumed dead, Americans were wondering just how bad this disaster would be.

Oil began leaking from the well 5,000 feet below the surface, discharging upwards of 200,000 gallons of crude oil per day, according to reports.

In the days and weeks that followed, cleanup plans began to surface.

That is when Valerie Snearly, owner of the Hair Fair Salon in Glenwood Springs, decided to pitch in. Snearly heard about barber shops and hair salons that were donating hair clippings to an organization that helps in oil spill cleanup efforts, like the one in the Gulf.

“For years, we’ve all been wondering what we could do with the hair clippings,” she said.

Snearly heard about Matter of Trust, an environmental non profit which has helped clean up oil spills in the San Francisco Bay area and beyond since 1998 by reusing donated hair clippings from hair salons, barber shops, pet groomers, and wool farmers. The hair clippings are stuffed into donated nylon stockings to create highly absorbent booms to contain and soak up oil spills.

“I think it’s a fabulous thing to do with the hair clipping,” Snearly said. “Why throw it away if you don’t have to.”

Snearly has a box in which she has been collecting clippings in since May 5. She estimates that she will have about 20 pounds of clippings when the box is filled.

From there, she’ll seal up the package and ship it off to a warehouse in Florida, where volunteers will make the booms.

Matter of Trust is coordinating efforts of thousands of participants to match nylon and hair donations to space in temporary warehousing along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, according to its website,

Other area salons and barbershops are also participating in the effort, like Creekside Hair and Skin Day Spa in New Castle. And according to Lynette Cerise, a Creekside hair stylist, it’s the little things like donating hair clippings that really make a difference.

“Do you know how much hair hits the floor in every salon across the country each day,” Cerise said. “It’s got to be a lot.”

Creekside has been rounding up clippings since May 5, as well, and Cerise said that it takes a while to fill a trash bag with hair clippings. But it’s good to know that they are helping a worthy cause.

“It’s a really cool thing and it’s been fun for us to package it up and to be able to tell people about what we are doing,” Cerise said. “And they enjoy being a part of it.”

Cerise said that Creekside stylists are offering 15 percent off hair cuts, through June 30, for those who want to donate their hair.

Matter of Trust has already received donations of hundreds of thousands of pounds of hair clippings, as well as many washed nylon stockings, from all 50 states and several other countries. It’s a good example of how something seemingly insignificant like hair clippings can be used in such a substantial way.

“I feel for the people down there who are going to lose more of their livelihood,” Snearly said.

And for as long as Matter of Trust will accept her donations of hair clippings, she won’t be throwing any in the trash.

“I intend to do it as long as they’ll take it,” she said. “I won’t throw away any more hair.”

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