After seeing photos of dolphins, turtles and seals trapped in lost, abandoned or discarded fishing nets, Sam Cartwright and Xavier Warburton had to do something to make a difference.
“We kept seeing these awful photos,” says Sam. “It turns out that in some places, nearly half of plastic in the ocean comes from these deadly nets, and they were killing millions of animals every year.
“The focus always seemed to be on plastic bottles and straws, which felt strange given these nets carry on doing what they do best – entangling and killing marine life for decades to come.”
The friends put their heads together and started a sustainable pet brand, Tangle, making dog leads, toys and bowls from the discarded nets, known as ghost nets.
“As dog owners, we realised that naturally, people with pets have an appreciation for other wildlife and nature too,” Sam, 28, continues.
“We wanted to create a product that people would be able to talk about with their friends, so that word could further spread about the ghost net problem.
“We knew it was something we had to try and stop so we always knew we’d be using fishing nets. We wanted to do something that would be a circular economy and could stop the problem at its source.
“With our partners, fishers are able to donate their end-of-life fishing nets at ports, so there’s no reason for them to be dumped overboard (previously disposing of them was costly and time-consuming).”
Sam and Xavier, who are based in Portsmouth, have two Labradors, one Dachshund, and four chickens – so pet products seemed the perfect invention for them to try.
“We realised that recycled fishing net was the perfect material for dog leads,” explains Sam. “As they’re extremely strong and waterproof – so not only are they practically indestructible, they also don’t get smelly like other leads!
“Customers are a big fan of the product too, partly because of its long-lasting credentials, but also because of the way it looks too. We’re lucky in that after the nets have been recycled together, the colour of the material comes out in a lovely teal/olive.
“People have been hugely supportive of us whenever they’ve learnt about Tangle, because of the impact we have and also because a lot of the time they weren’t aware of the ghost net problem.”
Tangle are now partnering with retailers who wish to stock their products, and are hoping to add collars, beds and harnesses to their repertoire in the near future.
“Over time, we want to create more specialist pet products too – realistically the pet industry on the whole is extremely unsustainable so we think we can have a big impact in a lot of areas.
“Like a lot of people, over the last 15 years or so, we’re all becoming very aware of the state our oceans and the planet are in, but we both felt like we were often helpless to make a serious impact.
“When we learnt about ghost nets we just knew we had to act, even if we had no experience in the area. We both realised that often sustainability can be quite preachy and alienating, which means people are put off, normally there’s a compromise with a sustainable product too.
“So for us, we wanted to build a product/company that would make a real difference but also would be something that people were proud and excited to be a part of.
“We measure our success on how many ghost nets we can stop entering the ocean, so in five years time hopefully far more people are aware of ghost nets, and we’ll have made a huge dent in the problem.
“The more products we sell, the more impact we have on the ghost net problem.”
For more information, visit: Tangle
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