June 29, 2010 Leave a comment
The Gulf oil spill, which was triggered by the explosion of the Deepwater oilrig on April 20, has become the biggest environmental disaster ever experienced in the U.S. The devastation has impacted lives, jobs, marine life, wildlife, tourism and the health, financial and emotional wellbeing of many. At this point, the reach of the catastrophe is uncertain, but some leading scientists believe the damaging effects will be felt all the way to Europe and the Arctic. Those of us living outside of the Gulf keep reading the headlines and listening to the news with a feeling of helplessness. Although no news about the oil spill is good, the wool industry is finding ways to lend a hand and help in the clean efforts.
You may have heard that many salons are donating cut hair to help fill booms. Well…another sought after filler for booms is wool. Wool, which has been shown to soak up 40 times its weight in oil, traps the contaminant instead of absorbing it. This means the oil can be removed from the wool and recycled and the wool can be reused several times before its efficiency decreases.
To aid in the oil-spill cleanup, volunteers throughout the Gulf have been making miles and miles of booms. These booms are typically filled with polypropylene, which doesn’t work near as well as hair and wool. To help provide better filler, Wools of New Zealand contacted its U.S. manufacturer partners who answered the call to donate wool waste for use in the clean-up efforts. The wool waste material is shipped to Matter of Trust, an organization that warehouses the fiber and makes it into booms. The wool is joined by thousands of pounds of hair, fleece and feathers that will be turned into booms and used for shoreline protection and oil spill clean up.
Wool has been called on before for this same purpose. As reported by BBC News, New Zealand sent wool booms to the Persian Gulf during the first Iraq war in 1991. The wool booms successfully helped clean up the million tons of oil released by retreating Iraqi soldiers.
It’s not surprising that wool can be of benefit. It is natural, biodegradable, hydrophobic, buoyant and has large retaining capacity. Wool truly is an incredible fiber. Even though it has been around for thousands of years, it continues to surprise us with its ability to make the world around us a better place.
Hemphill’s Rugs & Carpets is proud to be associated with the Wools of New Zealand as a Premier Partner. Many of our wool carpet vendors have partnered with our showroom and the Wools of New Zealand in an effort to make the world a “greener” place. Some of our key wool carpet manufactures include Karastan, Fabrica, Masland, Nourison, Stanton, J. Mish, Robertex, Hagaman, Couristan, Bellbridge, Concepts International, Prestige Mills, Carousel, Woolshire, Unique Carpets and more.
As you can see from the impressive list above, Hemphill’s Rugs & Carpets offers a huge selection of natural fiber products including wool, sisal, abaca, seagrass, mountain grass and jute.