March 16, 2011
PROBLEM: Oil Spill.
SOLUTION: Mop it up with human hair!
That was the message behind the cockamamie “MyHairCares” hoax, attributed to oil transport giant Enbridge, a Canadian company looking to build a 700+ mile pipeline through pristine British Columbian wilderness. “MyHair Cares,” which was promoted in a slick Video News Release and involved a flurry of conflicting press releases, was dreamed up by former oil workers and involved outreach to over 1000 hair salons across Canada.
Why Enbridge? Because the company’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline is a disaster waiting to happen, a project that would cut across the Rocky Mountains, the pristine Great Bear rain forest, and over 1,000 streams and rivers. The pipeline would carry 700,000 barrels a day of petroleum products across 1,170 kilometres between Alberta’s Tar Sands and the Pacific Coast, where supertankers would carry the crude though the treacherous Douglas Channel—an area in which currents render conventional oil containment booms useless.
And the company’s conduct in the lower 48 doesn’t do much to inspire confidence. In the summer of 2010, an Enbridge pipeline spilled more than 800,000 gallons of oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. Enbridge is expected to face federal criminal charges for neglecting to maintain that pipeline; they are also accused of merely covering up, not actually cleaning up the oil.
One salon owner contacted after the ruse lauded the activists’ approach to getting the media to pay attention to one of the most pressing environmental issues in North America. “I wasn’t tricked, I was educated,” said Brian Phillips, owner of World Salon in Toronto. “I had no idea what the people in Michigan were going through with Enbridge. We shouldn’t invite that treatment here in Canada.”
The hair hoax was covered in all the major Canadian press, and was capped off by a free haircut session in front of Enrbidge headquarters. Ultimately “My Hair Cares” was meant to highlight the fact that, based on its track record, Enbridge lacks any real plan for oil spill remediation—and that sopping up oil with human hair would actually be an improvement.
Read the reveal here.