Wools of New Zealand requested its U.S. carpet manufacturer partners to donate wool waste for use in the Gulf coast oil spill clean-up efforts. So far, J. Mish, Woolshire, Woolen Resources and Creative Accents have all shipped wool waste material to Matter of Trust (matteroftrust.org), an organization that is warehousing the fiber and making them into booms to help soak up the oil.  

“Wool is a highly efficient oil adsorbent (meaning the oil clings to the many tiny scales on every strand)," said Elise Demboski, executive director of Wools of New Zealand in North America. “It is natural, biodegradable, hydrophobic, buoyant and has large retaining capacity. This makes it much more effective for use in booms then typical polypropylene fillers.”     

Wool has been used before for a similar purpose. 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.

“I applaud our partners for donating their wool waste, which is typically sold or used to make recycled cushion,” noted Demboski. “Instead, they are shipping the wool, at their own expense, to warehouses in the Gulf of Mexico. The wool is joined by thousands of pounds of hair, fleece and feathers that will be turned into 25 miles of boom.

“We didn't think about it twice,” said Don Karlin, vp sales and marketing for J. Mish. “When Elise contacted us, we were able to ship 3,000 pounds of wool waste to the warehouse. This is a devastating situation and we want to help any way we can.”

According to Lisa Gautier, president of Matter of Trust, the warehouses are now full and donations are being held until further notice. Matter of Trust volunteers are busy making booms that are being deployed in Florida and Alabama. Wools of New Zealand partners have been put on a call list and are standing by ready to help when there is a need for more wool.