On July 25, 2020, a large ship carrying 4000 tonnes of fuel crashed on a reef in Mauritius, and eventually started leaking the content of its cargo all over the coastline.
This is a major blow to that ecosystem, and to the people of Mauritius who rely heavily on tourism. Having such an incident happen following covid 19 is truly terrible timing.
Some of the people of Mauritius decided to take matters into their own hands, and organize efforts to clean up. Francoise Gachet took to Facebook to rally the community and hairdressers to contribute to the cleanup.
When I first heard about this, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of hair as a mitigation plan for an oil spill, but it turns out that this is not a new idea. Hair is excellent at soaking up oil. Those of us with cabinets full of hair products could probably attest to that, but it would have never crossed my mind to think of hair as a viable mitigation strategy for the effects of a ginormous environmental incident at this scale.
The response to this initiative has been great. Hairdressers and citizens are rallying up to answer the call. The hair is gathered up and stuffed in bags that are placed on the water.
Hairdressers have also set up shop on site, cutting hair from members of the community who are ready to donate their strands.
Here is a great video by Vox with a little history and a demo:
This story is a testament to human ingenuity and nature's superiority despite the number of times and ways we mess up.
What are your thoughts on this? If you wish to find out more, here are a few of the organizations doing the work on the ground:
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Here is an update over the weekend of the 8th-9th Aug, where the situation with the Wakashio oil spill has worsened, with Mauritius declaring a national state of emergency. The Mauritian people have truly come together to try and save their lagoon, doing the best they can with whatever resources they have. With much of Mauritian news being delivered in French, and not much international coverage, I hope this helps more people to better understand what’s happening to our island. (Polite note: With the situation ever-changing, I have tried to ensure everything is factually correct by using the listed sources). Please raise as much awareness as you can! #SovNouLagon