Thousands Donate Their Hair to Help Stop an Oil Spill in Venezuelan


  • Thousands of people, and their dogs, have donated hair to help clean up Lake Maracaibo.
  • Environmentalists will weave nets out of the hair to stop the oil slicks from spreading.
  • The tried-and-true method has been an effective oil clean-up tool for decades.

Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo has been polluted with so much crude oil over the years that it can be seen from space.

Now, a young environmentalist is trying to change that — by asking volunteers to donate their hair to soak up the oil, The Washington Post reported.

Selene Estrach, 28, is the founder of the Venezuelan environmentalist organization Proyecto Sirena. She and her team are collecting the hair and plan to use it later this month.

Estrach told the Post that thousands of people have already donated, and some even brought their dogs in for a haircut to contribute to the cause.

Estrach and her team will use the hair to weave nets — called booms — that can both stop oil slicks from spreading and soak up the oil itself. Estrach told the Post that two pounds of hair can soak up between 11 and 17 pounds of oil.

Estrach told the outlet she’s also developing a way to safely wring out the oil and dispose of it so they can re-use the booms.

Estrach’s work follows in the footsteps of environmentalists who have been working on this method for decades.

In 1989, Alabama-based hairdresser Phillip McCrory created a prototype for an oil clean-up device made of human hair — a device that NASA tested and deemed effective.

McCrory later teamed up with Matter of Trust, a California-based organization that has been creating human hair booms for more than 20 years now.


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