Blog: Slick solution to oil spill

Simon Warburton | 13 May 2010

As the massed ranks of the US Air Force, a flotilla of ships and a rather embattled BP attempt to plug the hole in the Gulf of Mexico oil well that has so far spewed forth 15m litres of the black stuff, word reaches just-style of an extraordinary contribution from the fashion business.

BP's clean-up is estimated to cost a cool GBP80m (US$118m) - for which the Obama administration apparently expects the oil company to open its cheque book - but a rather cheaper option has been set in motion by Hanesbrands.

Brace yourself, but the the apparel group has waded in with a donation of 50,000 Hanes, L'eggs and Just my Size pantyhose (tights) to be used by non-profit and grassroots volunteer groups making oil-absorbing hair booms to fight the Gulf Coast oil spill.

But it gets even more surreal. The groups will stuff the pantyhose with human and pet hair to make booms that absorb and trap crude oil. Oil is reclaimed by squeezing it out of the pantyhose-and-hair booms, which will then be reused to collect more spilled oil from Gulf Coast waters.

"We are collecting hair and pantyhose throughout the country to make 1m hair booms during the next three weeks," said The Sunshine and Shores Foundation vice president and co-founder Jeff Golden.

"Hair acts as a sponge. When you put these booms in oil-polluted water, they absorb the oil and leave the water crystal clear."

Mind you this isn't Hanesbrands' signature pantyhose range. Using what it says is "off-quality product," the company will stuff the tights with hair, cover them with mesh and put the booms in the water to trap the oil.

Quite how enough hair to fill 1m booms will be collected quickly - that slick is a massive size now - is anyone's guess.

We salute the good folks at Hanesbrands for coming up with such a creative - dare we say slick? - solution to the spill. But to anyone who's ever tried to bath a dog, let alone extract hair from one, good luck.

By Simon Warburton.


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