The oceans are so vast and deep that most people believed that no matter how much trash humans dumped in them the effect would be negligible but the research conducted during the last couple of decades has shown the harm we have already done to our oceans and marine life is beyond our imagination. Plastic pollution seeps into the ocean through run-off and even purposeful dumping.

The amount of plastic in the Atlantic Ocean has tripled since 1960 and it is destroying the marine ecosystem. The biggest culprit here is single-use plastic, especially ghost nets, plastic bottles, grocery bags which are made up of non-biodegradable plastics which take thousands of years to decompose.

More than 650,000 marine animals, including dolphins, whales, seals, and turtles, are killed or injured in fishing nets each year. In many cases, animals get caught and die in nets that are being actively used by fishermen.

Approximately 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear is left in our oceans every year, according to World Animal Protection (WAP). In some cases, illegal fishermen may deliberately dump their nets into the ocean to avoid getting caught. Ghost nets accumulate at the bottom of the ocean and cause plastic pollution.

While the developed countries are actively working towards introducing environment-friendly policies, Pakistan is still far behind on this agenda. There is a great need for taking drastic measures to fight environmental degradation in the country. Pakistan currently sits at 169th position out of a total of 180 countries according to the environmental performance index (EPI) 2018. Our cities are becoming landfills and the condition of our oceans is even worse. While the government has taken some initiatives to fight the ghost of pollution by banning plastic bags and launching a massive tree plantation drive, there is a need for a more collective effort. The Earth is slowly dying and if we don’t take drastic steps now it will leave all of us in a hopeless state soon.

To create value out of waste, the Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation (ACF) has created a dog leash made out of 100 percent ghost net. ACF has been assisting and empowering marginalised and ignored communities for the last 6 years. These communities include people and animals alike, giving them a chance to live a better quality of life.

All over the world ghost nets are used in making bags and friendship bands but the idea of using ghost nets to make a dog leash is a brain child of ACF. While, ACF’s CEO, Ayesha was working with a donkey sanctuary in the UK, she learned harness making from plastic and thought of implementing it in Pakistan. After extensive research and planning the team of ACF decided to use the ghost nets for making a dog leash, the idea was a big hit. In 2018, the ACF won the WWF Green Innovation Challenge by creating dog leashes out of ghost net found in the oceans.

Ghost nets are bunched together to make a sturdy rope out of it which is later lined up with denim. Finally, the leash is customised with colorful yarn into different lengths and width to fit the need of customers. This initiative will not only help in dealing with plastic pollution but also give Pakistan a wonderful image of being eco-friendly on a global scale. Moreover, this can prove as a ray of hope for the concerned labor in this debilitating economy as the whole idea is to create value out of something completely useless.