Islamabad: When Ayesha Chundrigar was tasked with creating a sustainable solution for animals in her home city of Karachi, she said her aim was to fill two needs with one deed – repurpose plastic and save marine life.
Today, her namesake animal rights and welfare organization – the Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation (ACF) – has succeeded in doing just that by creating Pakistan’s first dog leashes made out of recycled ghost net.
The ghost net is the material that is discarded after it’s used for fishing in the oceans. Invisible to the naked eye, it often gets tangled with rocks and coral reefs, resulting in the deaths of several marine species.
“We thought that maybe we could create donkey harnesses in an eco-friendly way and that led us to think why not try using ghost net because that’s killing marine life in the oceans,” Ayesha told Arab News on November 17, 2019.
With the help of Anusha Gul, ACF’s Director of Operations, the two soon put their plan to test, only to realize that they could engage a community, create jobs and empower people from Karachi’s fishing hubs.
“My team went to the fishing villages in Karachi, and discussed the idea with fishermen where we paid them per dive so that they had more of an incentive to pull out the ghost nets,” Chundrigar told Arab News.
Next, they trained women to weave the ghost net with scraps of denim to make sturdy ropes. The end result was “beautiful, colorful leashes” – each one unique and different from the other.
“Ghost net leashes are something that every pet owner would love to use...because people understand that they are being socially aware and eco-friendly. By buying one leash, you are benefiting the women and fishing villages, you are empowering them, you are cleaning the oceans, you are helping marine animals, and some of the funds from buying of one leash comes back to ACF Animal Rescue,” she added.
Rescuing animals is not unchartered territory for the ACF which has been actively saving dogs and cats and protecting donkeys and mules in Karachi since 2013.
The effort has been well worth it, too, with the group winning the 2018 WWF Green Innovation Challenge for the dog leashes.
“We decided to work with the environment to make a difference because we wanted to try and build a circular economy where you take something that is of no use and turn that around into something that can be used on a daily basis,” Chundrigar said.
The leashes and harnesses are available for purchase on ACF’s social media pages under the handle, ACFanimalrescue.org.