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In 1989, hairdresser Phil McCrory was watching the clean up of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on CNN.

He heard the announcer say that the birds were more affected by the oil than the otters because their fur was able to absorb the oil.

Looking around his salon, the hairdresser had an original idea for the unwanted hair he disposed of every day.

He began testing how much oil he could collect with the hair clippings from his salon and invented the Hair Mat which helped contain an oil spill off the coast of San Francisco in 2007.

The mat is now being used today in the recent Gulf clean-up via the non-profit organization, Matter of Trust.

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, the smallest things, such as cutting your hair, can have a big environmental impact. Share your story of how you’re choosing the environment first and voting with your dollar by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero!

We all watched in horror this summer after millions of barrels of oil gushed into the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico, destroying valuable ecosystems and peoples’ livelihoods. Though the spill has been sealed off, our fear is that history will repeat itself if we don’t recover from our serious addiction to oil. And, we’re not the only ones.

On Tuesday, July 13, 2010, Andrew Ference was part of a group of athletes, including our own GreenHero Leilani Munter, that headed down to the Gulf of Mexico with Sierra Club to view firsthand the damage wreaked from the spill.

It was amazing for us to see this collaboration; despite their athletic differences (those represented were from the NFL, NHL and Olympic medalists), these athletes were connected by a single cause, and a single drive for change.

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The trip highlighted the connection between sports, health, and a clean environment. It also reminded us of the urgency of moving towards clean energy. Oil is dirty and dangerous, and the way we choose to move around, by train, plane, or automobile, sends a message to our decision makers about how we should be meeting our energy demands. Andrew reflected most succinctly after what he saw:

“I’m a father of two girls, and that’s a huge motivation. It comes down to the fact that my parents’ generation can maybe have an excuse as why some of these things have crept up, but now that I have kids, those excuses are gone. We have every technology available now to change how we get our power. We have to listen to what is going on in this world. What is missing is the willpower to do it.”

To view photos of the spill taken by Leilani Munter, check out this gallery.

To send a message to US President Barack Obama, visit the Sierra Club site.

In Canada, you can find out more about what is being done to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and speak up with Greenpeace or with the Polaris Institute.

Leilani Munter is an ambassador of the National Wildlife Federation, where you can donate to help affected wildlife.

To learn more about how you can put your pedal to the metal, and reduce your dependence on gas guzzlers, check out our Pedal Power campaign page!

And don’t forget to leave a comment here or on Andrew’s profile page to show your support and let others know how you’re using your bike to change the planet!

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

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