Philippines’ Gift to the World: The Oil Spill’s Hair Idea

Not quite the Filipinos’ original idea despite Tonic.com’s statement that volunteers got their inspiration from the Philippines.

This practice though became popular during the country’s worst oil spill tragedy. Massive amounts of human hair were used in containing the 2006 Guimaras oil spill disaster. Volunteers, led by inmates from the Philippines’ worst prisons, went hairless to save the marine protected areas dotting the Guimaras Strait. The shredded hairs were combined with feathers and other absorbent materials to soak up the more than 500,000 liters of oil spilled from a sunken tanker.

Despite their bald sacrifice however, scientists revealed in 2009 that the Guimaras marine ecosystem is still reeling from the effects of the disaster. Fisherfolk along the coasts also reported dwindling fish catch. Quoting from inquirer.net:

…the populations of mangroves and seagrass have declined, especially in the southern part of the island, which was the worst affected by the oil spill. Mollusks, including snails and slugs, have also declined in population and even disappeared in some areas, according to a study of Dr. Benjamin Vallejo Jr. conducted from 2007 to this year. This was also more evident in the southern part of Guimaras.

We are hoping that the current hair campaign for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill will yield tangible results. If you’re interested in donating your hair, watch this video from Matter of Trust, the leading organization for California hair volunteers:

Pictures of prison inmates and volunteers from various press sources:

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