Apparel maker Hanesbrands Inc. is donating 50,000 pairs of Hanes, L’eggs and Just My Size pantyhose to be used by non-profit and grassroots volunteer groups that are making oil-absorbing hair booms to fight the Gulf Coast oil spill.

The groups will stuff the pantyhose with human and pet hair to make booms that absorb and trap crude oil. Oil will be reclaimed by squeezing it out of the pantyhose-and-hair booms, which will then be reused to collect more spilled oil from Gulf Coast waters.

“We are collecting hair and pantyhose from throughout the country to make one million hair booms over the next three weeks,” said Jeff Golden, vice president and co-founder of The Sunshine and Shores Foundation in Destin, Florida. “Hair acts as a sponge. When you put these booms in oil-polluted water, they absorb the oil and leave the water crystal clear.”

“We were fascinated to learn of this other use for pantyhose,” added Chris Fox, vice president of corporate social responsibility for Hanesbrands Inc. “This is yet another way that we can contribute to environmental responsibility. We are happy to quickly redirect pantyhose scheduled to be recycled so that it can be used to combat an unfortunate environmental threat.”

Hanesbrands said it will donate 12,500 pairs of pantyhose to Sunshine and Shores and give 37,500 pairs to San Francisco-based Matter of Trust, an ecological charity that collects hair and pantyhose to make booms and oil-absorbing mats.