Lisa Craig Gautier collects human hair; in fact, she has a warehouse full of manes. And she’s turned the lowly waste product into a world-class eco tool.
“Hair is an amazing product,” says Gautier. “It cleans the air, it can clean petroleum, algae blossoms and fish oil, and it prevents soil erosion. It’s really a shame to put hair in landfills, where it sits for 3,000 years!”
Several years ago, the San Francisco resident decided to put hair to good use. She asked hair salons to send her their hair, which she put into nylon nets to make “hair mats.”
When Chinese tanker Cosco Busan leaked toxic fuel outside San Francisco two years ago, hundreds of volunteers helped clean it up — with Gautier’s hair mats. And some people now use the mats to clean up their car oil leaks.
“Hair mats are really magical,” says Gautier, a former zoo worker. “They are much better than the synthetic products that (are) normally used to clean up oil spills.”
Matter of Trust
• Today over 7,000 hair salons send hair to Gautier’s organization, Matter of Trust. Little girls mail their braids, and recently even a nudist colony sent a hair package. Only head hair can be used.