Hair and Mushrooms: The Next Big Thing for Oil Spill Cleanup?

Hair and Mushrooms: The Next Big Thing for Oil Spill Cleanup?

An unlikely tool has emerged to help hundreds of volunteers soak up globules of bunker oil spilled from a cargo ship that hit the Bay Bridge earlier this month.

The volunteers are using mats of human hair, which naturally acts as a sponge to absorb oil from air and water, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Lisa Gautier, who runs a nonprofit called Matter of Trust, supplied the clean-up effort with 1,000 hair mats which are as big as a doormat.

After doing its job soaking up the oil, volunteers then add mushrooms, which absorb the oil over a 12-week period to turn the hair mats into nontoxic compost.

Gautier, who collects the hair from area salons before sending it to Georgia to be woven into mats, hopes the process will inspire natural solutions to contain man-made oil disasters, such as the Cosco Busan oil spill.

She has, according to The Chronicle, been talking to a Chinese company about shipping more hair mats to San Francisco.

"This can completely revolutionize oil spill cleanup," Gautier said.