Special Reports

Manatee stylists collect tresses for cleanup (video)

BRADENTON — Christina Barbour at one time was an advocate of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, but with a massive spill possibly approaching Florida, she’s had a change of heart.

“A year, a year and a half ago, I was all for drilling, but I have to say absolutely ‘No’ for offshore drilling now. We should be looking at other means,” said Barbour, 40, of Bradenton, who was sitting in a hair salon, where the locks that fell from a routine cut would be gathered up and sent away to make simple devices designed to help soak up oil.

“How scary is that to know we have this going on and we have no shut-off valve?” Barbour mused as hairdresser Iris Danowit snipped away at Barbour’s long tresses.

The shop, BC Cutters Hair Design, 417 12th St. W., Suite 110, is one local salon contributing hair that will be used to make low-tech booms to contain and soak up oil, or woven mats to remove oil, as a slick issuing from BP’s damaged Deepwater Horizon well threatened Florida.

In hair salons and pet-grooming studios across the country, clipping and snipping have become acts of environmental patriotism.

Matter of Trust, a nonprofit “green” recycling operation, launched a drive to collect tress trimmings and animal fur to make booms for corralling spilled Gulf oil.

The San Francisco-based organization has been creating mats from human hair, pet fur and wool for 12 years, with little notice.

But an Internet campaign to gather “natural, renewable fiber” for the Gulf cleanup went viral, and by Friday had generated about 400,000 pounds of material, said Matter of Trust co-founder Lisa Craig Gautier.

Matter of Trust will also receive hair from another Bradenton salon, Faces Salon, 6600 Manatee Avenue. W., which has been collecting tresses for a week now, according to its owner, Donna Vellanti-Wagner.

“We’ve probably collected two tall trash cans full of hair, and by Friday, we’ll be sending a large box,” she said. “Honestly, everyone is all about it.”

So far, she estimated 100 people from her shop have contributed to the drive.

She would be willing to offer her salon as a collection point to help others who also want to collect for the cause, she said.

Kimberly Domenech, owner at BC Cutters, said her customers have been enthusiastic. “They’re so excited,” she said. “They’re glad to help.”

— The Miami Herald contributed to this story.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.