Salons gather hair clippings to help with oil spill cleanup

(NBC) - A technology that turns hair into absorbent barriers against oil could now be used to save beaches from the oil spill along the Gulf Coast.

Around one pound of hair is thrown away every day by every salon in the country.

"I've been a hair stylist for 23 years and I think we used to ask that question every day. 'What can we do with it?'" said Andrea Sorrenti of Andrea's Organic Salon in Naples.

She said she has been collecting hair clippings for the last four years.

"Every time they see me throwing hair in my little bag, now they're going to see a good cause," she said.

Matter of Trust, national organization that collects hair clippings and turns them into oil absorbing mats by stuffing it into pantyhose, is moving into high gear and has reached out to salons in Southwest Florida.

Ingrid Setzer is leading the hair mat team.

On Monday, Averitt Transportation gave her the go ahead to use their 20,000 square foot warehouse in Fort Myers to store all of the hair and pantyhose.

"Everybody is sending us hair. We're getting hair from Australia, England - all over the world," said Setzer. "We can either send the booms wherever or stockpile them here, in case the oil hits our shores."

While none of the local stylists ever thought the mats would be needed so close to home, most of them we spoke to say they're glad something that would be in a landfill can now be used to save our beaches.

Copyright 2010 NBC. All rights reserved.