RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—The seemingly endless images of gushing oil pouring from the broken pipe under the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico are depressing, to say the least. As BP, the Coast Guard, the National Guard, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clamor to stop the leak, countless other organizations and individuals are jumping in to help. You can, too. Here are some ideas:
#1: Send nylons, not hair. A small California nonprofit, Matter of Trust, launched a highly publicized effort last month to collect human and animal hair from salons and farms to send to the gulf to be used in "hair booms." Volunteers filled long tubes of recycled nylons with the hair, which were then deployed in oily water to help absorb the spilled petroleum. However, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and BP have asked Matter of Trust to stop sending hair, as the commercial booms they were using were more efficient. Turns out the hair often absorbed as much water as oil, and the nylon tubes sank to the sea floor, threatening bottom-dwelling aquatic life. Still, Matter of Trust believes its hair booms will be useful in later stages of the cleanup. However, the organization is no longer accepting hair donations, and instead needs your old nylon stockings and pantyhose. Find out how and where to send them at www.matteroftrust.org
#2: Help oily birds. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and NOAA, birds have been hurt the most by the oil spill. Of the 612 oil-soaked birds found since the spill began, 527 had already died. Here's how you can help. If you live in the area, report any oily bird sightings to the FWS on its hotline at 866-557-1401. The FWS advises that you don't handle birds yourself. The oil can be toxic, and oiled birds are already stressed, so handling them could cause even greater harm. If you don't live near the coast, you can donate money to the International Bird Rescue Research Center or to Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, a Delaware-based wildlife rescue operation. Composed of scientists and veterinarians, these two groups are working together and along with FWS to clean birds. BP is footing the bill for the cleanup efforts, but your donations will help support the missions of these groups and provide funds for future emergencies.
Published on: June 4, 2010