How sheep and alpaca fiber will contribute to the clean-up of the Gulf oil spill

AbbyMac By AbbyMac, 12th Jul 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>News>Environment

Alpacas and sheep, along with dogs, birds and long-haired humans are all contributing to the clean-up of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Matter of Trust

Alpacas and sheep, along with dogs, birds and long-haired humans are all contributing to the clean-up of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico created from the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. One organization is taking the fiber, fleece, fur, feathers and hair from these animals and people, and implementing a creative solution to the disaster looming in the gulf.

Created in 1998, Matter of Trust, based in San Francisco, “is an ecological public charity that links ideas, sparks action and materializes flourishing systems. It concentrates on manmade surplus, natural surplus and eco-education.” They normally work on about 2600 much smaller oil spills annually, but are now ramping up operations to meet the immense disaster at hand.

For oil spills, they take donations of panty hose and stuff them with human hair, sheep wool, alpaca fiber and even dog fur and bird feathers to form floating booms to surround the slick. The oil adsorbs (clings) to the hair and fiber and can then be removed from the water. If you think of your own hair and how oil from the body naturally sticks to it, you can understand the concept at work here.

Hair salons around the country are saving up the cut hair from clients and mailing it down by the boxload to Florida, where one of the Matter of Trust warehouses is located . One alpaca farm, the Eastland Alpaca Farm of Mount Joy, PA, sheared their alpacas providing several hundred pounds of waste fiber. They added in fiber and wool donated from surrounding farms, sending a U-Haul loaded with 2500 pounds total down south.

The call has gone out to dog groomers to collect their shorn clippings, and to school children and Scouts groups to gather their hair from haircuts. There is also a need for volunteers local to one of the many warehouses to take this hair and fiber and stuff the pantyhose.

The oil industry's answer to the floating slick includes using dispersants made of chemical solvents with controversial safety issues to humans and marine life, and synthetic booms which then pose a secondary pollution problem with disposal. Human hair and animal fiber can be composted and if put in landfills or incinerated will cause no extra pollution problem.

Matter of Trust has an ingenious solution and an army of willing volunteers and donors throughout the US contributing to the clean-up effort. Sheep and alpacas don't often get credit for saving the day but they are very deserving heroes in this endeavor.

Tags

Alpaca, Fiber, Gulf Oil Spill, Sheep, Wool

Meet the author

author avatar AbbyMac
I am a mother of two teenage girls, living on a farm where we raise award-winning Corriedale Sheep. I have homeschooled for 11 years and currently own a homeschool curriculum store. I enjoy writing about homeschooling, animals and mysteries of the ...(more)

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