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Mauritian locals are cutting off their own hair to help absorb the oil spill

After a devastating oil spill that ensued when a Japanese bulk carrier ran aground off the coast of Mauritius on July 25, the people of Mauritius have united in cutting off their hair to help soak up the mess.

Locals have begun building floating booms out of straw, sugar cane leaves, and human hair stuffed into fabric sacks and tubes of tights.

floating barriers

In the wake of environmental devastation after a major oil spill off Mauritius, the locals have banded together, cutting off their hair to make barriers and contain the spillage.

After the Mauritian Government declared a state of emergency following an oil spill of around 1000 tonnes and the potential for further damage, locals have taken matters into their own hands.

“Citizens are building kilometers of floating booms to contain the spillage and we have been fabricating these with sugar cane leaves but we are also making it with hair because hair is a great absorbent for oil,” Mauritian MP Joanna Berenger told BBC.

Human hair is lipophilic – meaning that it repels water but attaches to anything made of oil – which is useful in the separation of oil and water. One kilogram of hair can absorb 8 litres of oil, according to Berenger.

Locals are being encouraged to trim their locks for a cause, with hairdressers even offering free haircuts for those who are willing to donate.

If you’d like to help out and donate to Mauritius, head over to this CrowdFund campaign organised by local non-profit Eco-Sud, or alternatively this Facebook fundraiser organised by charity Karmagawa.