Milkweed fibers repel water but absorb oil. And that means that milkweed is a safe, natural, plant-based, hypoallergenic, and effective oil spill cleaner.
A company called Encore3 has started making oil spill cleanup kits using milkweed. Each kit can absorb 53 gallons of oil. Multiple kits can easily be used to clean up more oil. The kits absorb oil at the rate of .06 gallons a minute. That sounds pretty darn slow, but it’s actually twice as fast as conventional oil cleaning products.
20 farmers are currently growing milkweed for the company on 800 acres of land. Another 35 farmers are on a waiting list to get on board with the project. The milkweed will be grown without pesticides or fertilizers.
This may be extra good news for monarch butterflies.
Monarch butterfly populations have been significantly declining in the last few years. Their numbers have declined so much (some people estimate that they have declined by as much as 95%) that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering giving monarchs endangered status. And this decline in their numbers is our fault. It’s the result of pollution, insecticides, and loss of habitat. Mostly loss of habitat. Particularly the loss of milkweed, which is literally the only plant that monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on.
If you want to help monarchs, consider planting milkweed in your garden. There are a lot of different varieties to choose from. You can learn more and order milkweed plants here.