Cleaning up Oil spills with Hair

Image result for cleaning up oil spills with human hair

I recently saw a video (watch it here!) that had featured an organization out of San Fransisco that is using human hair to clean up oil spills. The company, Matter of Trust, has been operating for several years now, and has received donations of thousands of pounds of hair to date.

Now, I don’t know a lot about oil spills, but their site has quite a bit of educational material (they even donate mats and booms to schools for student experiments) on their products. The photo above shows a boom. This is a recycled nylon that is then stuffed with hair. Matter of Trust is sent all kinds of hair – human, dog, cat, alpaca, etc; short, long, and any length in between. Hair has a special property companies have only been able to mimic synthetically. It is porous, so oil can be soaked up, but it also is almost entirely hydrophobic, shedding water at an incredible rate.

It is also completely natural and sustainable which is an amazing bonus. There are over 80,000 hair salons and more than 100,000 pet groomers in the United States alone. This company is donated all kinds of hair, which they then process into their products. There are several thousands oil spills each year, all ranging in size and deadliness.

Here is a short video in which this company demonstrates the effectiveness of a hair boom:

It’s wonderful to see companies like this take such a seemingly overlooked material and create something so influential. Check out all of their videos here!

creating clean drinking water out of thin air

Clean drinking water is a commodity. According to the Thirst Project, over 663 million people in the world do not have clean drinking water. I’ve traveled to several places where the public water system is either unsuitable for digestion, or completely nonexistent. In Haiti especially, I had to drink water out of small bags like these:

Image result for water bags haiti

The plastic waste from these bags is out of control however, and honestly might add to the problem more than it helps. So it really intrigues me when I see a project surrounding harvesting water, like the Creating Water Foundation‘s “fogfarming,” where they quite literally pull clean drinking water from thin air.

Here is what happens. They set up a net system in the outskirts of Lima, Peru. This area is notorious for fog, so, their system capitalizes on the unused condensation in the atmosphere. The condensation gathers when the wind from the coast pushes fog through the nets. These droplets then fall down into a gutter-like system that then pours the water into large containers for storage. Those containers can then be accessed by organizations for distribution, or by individuals in surrounding communities for personal consumption.

The nets are installed by locals, creating jobs within the process of long-term solutions as well. The installation is fairly inexpensive, especially in relation to water purification systems that require a lot of man power and electricity to operate.

What is even more incredible to me, it that they have a complete guide/manual outlining how to install your own net system on their website. For free. How amazing is that?? A company with a beautifully intelligent design, gives away assets like this just to help people. That to me, is truly something.