May 26 • 05:57 PM

Area pros clip for a cause

Stylist, barber, groomer donate clippings to clean oil spill

May 19, 2010
TRI-CITY AREA — Did you hear the one about the stylist, the barber and the dog groomer? It's pretty hairy...

...Okay. Forgive me. There really is something to tell about Almont's Oasis Salon and Imlay City's Sportsmen's Barber Shop and Kelly's Pet Grooming Boutique. And it is pretty hairy. And pretty neat.

Oasis stylist Kim Ruhlig, barber Brian Hill and pet groomer Kelly Villanueva are sweeping up all their clippings for potential use in sopping up the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Working with the non-profit group 'Matter of Trust,' the trio are supporting the Hair Mat Oil Spill program, in which hair and fur clippings are used to make booms to contain spills.

According to, the clippings are stuffed into recycled nylon stockings and covered with mesh, tied together and used to collect and contain oil.

Pet groomer Kelly Villanueva and barber Brian Hill are also participating in ‘Matter of Trust’ hair collection project to clean up oil spill. photo by Catherine Minolli.

Ruhlig, who says she's always looking for ways to help others, found out about the program through a client.

"I usually like to try to help out on a local level, but with the oil spill there's so much help needed," Ruhlig says.

"After 23 years in the beauty business I knew there would be a good use for hair clippings one day," she adds. "We're excited to take part in this organization."

Villanueva says she also likes the idea of recycling something that would normally end up in a landfill. Like Ruhlig, she found out about Matter of Trust through one of her grooming clients.

"I thought it was a great idea and said 'why not?' I'd just throw out all this pet hair anyway," she says.

Villanueva spread the word to neighboring businessman Brian Hill, barber and owner of Sportsmen's Barber Shop. He, too, is sweeping up his clippings and walking them next door to Villanueva's recycling bin.

"Hopefully it will go to good use," Hill says.

The hair mat concept was launched in 1989 by hair stylist Phil McCrory. Dismayed over the Exxon-Valdez disaster, the stylist noted that "greasy hair means hair collects oil!"

Participants are asked to log onto the Matter of Trust Web site and sign up. They then receive instructions on how and where to send their donations. Stylists and groomers from across the country have jumped on board, though BP is currently using commercially produced absorbent booms to contain the growing spill.

The oil giant has also launched an online suggestion box inviting ideas for containment and cleanup. Submissions range from hair and straw to packing peanuts, sawdust and cat litter, reports John Schoen of

For Villanueva, Hill and Ruhlig, being able to recycle clippings for any good use is an appealing idea—even if the spill is handled in other ways.

"At our salon we love helping people feel better, both our customers and our community," Ruhlig says. "We are always open to new ideas to integrate into our clients' lives. We want to be more than just another business to our clients, we want to be part of their lives."

To schedule a haircut at Oasis Salon call 810-798-7650, walk-ins are welcome at the shop located at 740 N. Van Dyke, Almont (next to Charlie Brown's). Walk-ins are also welcome at Sportsmen's Barber Shop, 210 Third Street, Imlay City, phone 724-0330. Bring your pet to Kelly's Pet Grooming at 208 Third Street, Imlay City, or call 724-5335 for an appointment.

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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