We’ve written about a number of alternative ways to clean up oil spills using natural non-toxic materials ranging from peat moss to mats made from recycled hair. However even in the wake of several failed attempts to stop the Gulf oil spill, the company refuses to pursue alternative methods of cleaning up its mess. Lisa Craig Gautier — president of Matter of Trust, a San Francisco nonprofit that has lobbied for the use of renewable, reusable hair booms and mats — told me yesterday that the group has received donations from thousands of salons, groomers and alpaca farmers and now has 19 warehouses in the Gulf Coast region full of volunteer-assembled booms and mats ready to be deployed. But BP has categorically refused to use them.

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Initially, Gautier told me, BP’s booms department, Critical Resources Material Management, contacted the nonprofit and indicated that it would approve use of the hair products. But then it was unexpectedly elbowed aside by the PR department, which, as part of the Unified Command, issued a press release stating categorically that BP would not use hair booms.

First BP said said the booms don’t float. They do (video), especially when made from fur or fleece. Then the company claimed to have more than enough synthetic booms — which are made of — you guessed it — petroleum. They may or may not, but the hair booms are free. Finally, the company said it feared the hair booms would leave behind debris. That’s rich! A little natural debris sounds pretty good right now!

Gautier is confident the donated hair materials will be used eventually because the oil will be around for quite a while — as the tar on one’s feet at Santa Barbara and Padre Island attest. But why not use more renewable materials? What’s more, salons and groomers have shipped hair at their own cost, and Matter of Trust would like BP to pay. The group would also like BP to handle disposal of the used booms and mats.

+ Matter of Trust

+ Inhabitat coverage of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill