Did you know that one pound of hair collects a quart of oil?
When hairstylist Joan Novak learned that statistic she knew how the Whistler community could help those working to clean up the massive oil plume in the Gulf of Mexico.
Novak, 37, began organizing a hair collection drive with local salons to collect hair clippings that will be sent to workers in the Gulf to help soak up oil.
She sent her first shipment of hair and fur on Tuesday, June 8.
Forty-three pounds of hair and fur was bundled into brown courier boxes and sent south, to aid the Gulf oil spill.
"Two weeks ago, I was at a hair conference in Boston, and I was having a conversation with another hair stylist about the oil spill and what a mess it was," explained Novak last week about what made her decide to first launch the hair collection drive. "She said, 'Haven't you heard about the hair clippings?' She said there is an organization called Matter of Trust, and they make hair mats."
Novak looked into it and found out that Matter of Trust, based in San Francisco, is a non-profit organization that spearheads various programs to "materialize sustainable systems."
Since 2000 Matter of Trust has, among other projects, been making oil spill hair mats to help absorb oil during spills.
The hair is stuffed into tubes, or booms, made from recycled nylons that are tied together to surround a spill. The hair can be any length and any colour, treated or natural. Animal hair from alpacas and household pets can also be used.
Each hair mat can be used about 100 times to absorb oil, said Novak.
"When I heard about this, I was like, 'Oh my gosh, we have to do something,'" said Novak this week. "I work as a hair stylist at Good Hair Day and we sweep hair all day long."
Novak, who has been a hairdresser for 22 years, went to each of Whistler's hair salons to see if they would be interested in participating.
Everyone she approached jumped on board - and some had already heard about the hair mats and were already collecting hair. Farfalla even had one third of a garbage bag full of hair when she first talked to them.
"Everybody making a contribution, no matter how big or small, helps," said Novak. "I think if everyone collectively makes an effort it can help, and if it can save a few sea creatures, then I feel good about that."
The list of participating Whistler salons includes The Loft Salon & Spa, Razzamatazz, Blackcomb Barber Shoppe, The Parlor Hair Saloon, Farfalla Hair & Esthetics Inc. and Good Hair Day.
Supernova The Salon in North Vancouver also contributed to Whistler's hair collection drive, as did the pet groomer company Bubbles Dog Spa.
And the salons are joining a huge band of hairdressers from Canada, the U.S. and abroad who are also donating hair clippings to create the hair mats.
Novak plans to send out the next shipment of hair on July 8.
To find out more about the Whistler hair collection, visit Novak's website at http://web.me.com/joannovak/Jonohair/Blog/Blog.html