A jaw-dropping 2,100,000 gallons of oil (as of last Saturday) has already gushed forth from the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico since the devastating explosion that’s had us glued to the news – and it’s still flowing. The U.S. Coast Guard has been actively working to contain the spill by taking drastic action such as setting it on fire, but we had to wonder if there were greener solutions available – and there are actually quite a few to choose from! Read on to see our top picks for ways to clean up oil spills without destroying the surrounding environment.
CONTAIN IT WITH A GIANT UNDERWATER DOME
It may sound insane but desperate times call for desperate measures and BP engineers have begun working on an enormous dome that they propose could be lowered over the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. They are hoping that the dome could contain the 1,000 barrels of oil floating towards the Louisiana coastline, but admit that it will take at least 2 weeks – precious time that we can’t afford – to construct.
SOP IT UP WITH MUSHROOMS AND HAIR
Mushrooms and hair – not a combo that you’d like to find in a sandwich, but mats made from the mixture offer a totally organic and effective way to sop up oil on water. The technique isn’t just speculation either – it was actually utilized in the Cosco Busan oil spill of ‘07!
UTILIZE BACTERIA TO EAT UP THE OIL
Did you know that the key to ridding the oceans of oil may already lie in underneath its surface? Bioremediation — using naturally present microorganisms to clean up oil spills — makes use of bacteria living in the ocean who actually “eat” the oil when it enters their natural habitat. Adding sulfate or nitrate fertilizers to the microorganism population causes them to multiply beyond their natural state and eat up the toxic metals invading their home at up to five times the rate that they would without assistance.
SOAK IT UP WITH HYPER ABSORBANT PEAT MOSS
A Norwegian company has come up with a totally natural way to soak up nasty oil slicks – good old’ peat moss! The super absorbent moss they’ve developed can be scattered on the spill to absorb the oil, and then scooped right out of the water along with the oil.
MAKE OIL-ABSORBING MATS OUT OF PET HAIR AND PANTYHOSE
Most pet owners have a LOT of animal hair and fur floating around their homes. San Francisco-based non-profit Matter of Trust is asking dog and cat owners and groomers to donate their pets’ locks (as well as their own) to stuff inside of used pantyhose to create mats and booms that are perfect for soaking up oil.