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Utilizing Hair to Support Your Garden and Combat Pollution

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Using Hair to Help Your Garden or Fight Pollution

What’s an abundant renewable resource that can spur growth in your garden and clear pollutants from bodies of water? The answer might surprise you – it’s hair. Matter of Trust, a Bay Area nonprofit, has been using hair for more than two decades to clean up oil spills and other pollution from bodies of water. Their latest project involves encouraging the growth of vegetation in the Presidio in San Francisco, a national park site.

The group’s inspiration came from Phil McCrory, a hair stylist in Alabama, who realized the potential for using hair to soak up oils after seeing images of otters covered in crude oil from the Exxon Valdez tanker spill in 1989. Lisa Gautier, the founder of Matter of Trust, partnered with McCrory to develop a way to turn hair, fur, wool, or fleece into mats that can absorb petroleum. These mats can be used to clean up oil spills and other pollutants from water bodies.

In 2007, the effectiveness of hair mats was put to the test when a cargo ship, the Cosco Busan, leaked 58,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel into the ocean after colliding with the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Matter of Trust’s team quickly coordinated volunteers to place hair-infused booms and mats along San Francisco’s beaches. To dispose of the waste collected by these booms and mats, the team subjected them to composting methods involving worms and heat-loving bacteria and fungi, resulting in healthy compost.

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Now, the hair mats are being used as mulch in the Presidio to test their fertilizing capabilities. In a pilot study, it was found that sections planted using hair mats as substrate grew more robustly than control areas. Residents in the Bay Area and Los Angeles who compost or want to boost vegetation on their property can also use human or pet hair. Simply sprinkle the hair on top of the soil in flower pots and gardens. If the hair is longer than 2 inches, bury it in the soil to prevent bird entanglement.

For those interested in donating hair to Matter of Trust, they can sign up on the organization’s website, the Hum Sum. The group accepts all human, pet, and synthetic hair but requests that the different types be packaged separately. By utilizing hair as a natural resource, individuals can contribute to both their garden’s growth and pollution cleanup efforts.

Sources:
– Matter of Trust: https://matteroftrust.org/
– Presidio: https://presidio.gov/
– Exxon Valdez spill: https://darrp.noaa.gov/oil-spills/exxon-valdez
– Cosco Busan spill: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2007-nov-11-me-spill11-story.html
– SFGate article: https://www.sfgate.com/local/article/hair-mulch-clean-up-beaches-toxins-matter-of-trust-18672676.php
– The Hum Sum: https://www.humsum.org/signin

By incorporating hair into their gardening practices, individuals can not only promote plant growth but also contribute to environmental cleanup efforts. Join the movement to harness the power of hair for a greener, cleaner planet.

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Immigration in Maine Addressing Labor Shortage Could Set Trend for U.S.

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A significant labor gap in Maine’s lobster industry is being filled by immigrants, shedding light on the critical role that foreign-born workers are likely to play in the U.S. economy as the native-born population ages. Maine, known for its abundant lobster population, is grappling with an aging workforce that is increasingly unable to sustain the demands of the thriving lobster industry, valued at $1 billion.

Ben Conniff, a founder of Luke’s Lobster, underscores the importance of immigrants in sustaining the natural resources economy of the state, as many native-born workers are not inclined towards manufacturing work in food processing. Since its establishment in 2013, Luke’s Lobster has heavily relied on immigrants to staff its lobster processing plant, highlighting the vital role played by foreign-born workers in filling labor gaps.

With Maine boasting the oldest population in the U.S., with a median age of 45.1, the state offers a glimpse into the economic future of America, where immigrants are poised to be a crucial source of new workers and economic vitality in the coming years.

As immigration continues to be a hotly debated topic in the country, the influx of immigrants has been instrumental in boosting the American economy’s potential. The Congressional Budget Office has revised upwards its population and economic growth projections for the next decade, attributing the growth to the wave of newcomers entering the workforce.

Maine’s initiatives to attract and integrate immigrants into the workforce, such as the creation of an Office of New Americans, reflect the state’s proactive approach towards addressing labor shortages. Private companies like Luke’s Lobster have also taken steps to diversify and supplement the aging lobster fishing industry by training immigrants and minorities in lobster fishing and licensing processes.

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Chadai Gatembo, an 18-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, exemplifies the success story of immigrants finding opportunities in Maine. Despite facing challenges on his journey to the U.S., Gatembo is now on the path to becoming a full-fledged lobsterman, showcasing the potential for immigrants to thrive in new industries.

The influx of immigrants is not without its challenges, with issues of work authorization and economic stability confronting many newcomers. Adriana Hernandez, a mother of four from Venezuela, highlights the economic hardship faced by immigrants awaiting work permits, underscoring the barriers faced by unauthorized workers in integrating into the labor market.

Despite these challenges, the overall impact of immigration on the U.S. economy is significant. Immigrants have helped to bolster job growth, insulate the economy against downturns, and contribute to a more diverse and innovative workforce. Economists predict that immigration will play a crucial role in addressing labor shortages and demographic shifts as the native-born population ages.

The entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants like Chenda Chamreoun, who has risen from lobster cleaning to a quality assurance supervisor and now aims to start her own catering business, showcases the economic potential of foreign-born workers. Immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial, adding to the innovation and productivity of the American economy.

J. Edward Moreno contributed reporting from New York, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Washington.

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