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Vail Valley: Hair today, boom tomorrow

Sarah Mausolf
smausolf@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyCelena Olden sits in front of her house behind the pile of human hair she has collected to use in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill clean up Thursday in Eagle. Olden is working with several local hair salons to collect the air that will be stuffed in panty hose for the clean up.
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VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – The bags of hair are starting to accumulate at Eagle resident Celena Olden’s home.

Blonde, brown, black – the trusses arrive in all colors but share a single purpose: to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Last week, when Olden started asking local salons if they would donate their hair clippings to a good cause, they were eager to help.



“It’s almost a relief for people to be able to do this,” Olden said. “We feel a little helpless, up here in Colorado, to assist in this spill cleanup.”

So far, Olden has arranged for seven Eagle County hair salons and two pet groomers to donate hair to the effort. She’s hoping to convince all the local salons to join the cause. Separately, a number of hairstylists are getting involved. For instance, Candi Johns Salon in Vail and Riverwalk Cuts and Tans are collecting pantyhose and sending their hair clippings to the Gulf.



Yet as local hair donations take root, it’s unclear whether BP will use the trusses in its cleanup.

“It’s frustrating that there’s so much enthusiasm for helping out but the powers that be aren’t really giving this a chance,” Olden said.

Olden has been working with Matter of Trust, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that has been sending hair from all over the country to warehouses along the Gulf coast, where volunteers plan to turn it into booms and mats.



“BP may choose not to use our booms,” a Tuesday post on Matter of Trust’s Facebook page reads. “All we can do is provide them with the opportunity to use these donated booms.”

BP could not be reached for comment.

With uncertainty lingering over the booms, Olden almost called off her hair collection efforts. After thinking it over, she decided to keep gathering the hair. Even if BP doesn’t use it, she said the hair could still help to clean other oil spills.

Olden has been swinging by the salons to pick up the hair. She plans to send the locks to a warehouse in Alabama. If all goes as planned, volunteers who attend “Boom-B-Q’s” (boom-making parties) will stuff the hair in the warehouses into nylon stockings.

The massive oil spill hits home for many locals, even though the Vail Valley hardly hugs the coast.

Olden developed a fondness for sea turtles when she studied them 10 years ago in Costa Rica. When she saw footage of the oil spill, she immediately thought of the endangered Loggerhead turtles.

For Edwards resident Debbie Hein, the decision to donate 10 inches of her own hair to the cleanup came easily.

“I think it’s pretty devastating what’s happening there, the whole ecosystem,” she said. “You throw something out of whack like that and I think it’s going to affect everybody.”

Hein got her hair cut at DJ’s Hair Shoppe in Edwards, one of the businesses collecting hair. Hein also owns two horses who happen to be shedding. She plans deliver the horses’ stray locks to Olden.

“I’ll comb them out and collect it and save it,” she said.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.


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