A teen has created a non-profit business to repurpose old climbing rope and help animal rescue shelters
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Spotted: Innovation in sustainability is often about realising just how many perfectly good items get throw away or replaced every day. This is what happened when 16-year-old rock climber Alexander Tsao realised that the ropes at his local climbing gym were being frequently wasted.
Climbing ropes are designed with built-in stretch to cushion falls. After a set number of falls, they are too stretched out to be safely used and need to be replaced. The ropes in climbing gyms are fallen on all day long and so must be replaced frequently, even though they are still strong enough for other uses.
This is exactly what occurred to Tsao, who was surprised to find the ropes were sent to landfills. He brainstormed ways to reuse the old ropes and came up with the idea to turn them into dog leashes. He founded a non-profit, Dogs2Leashes, and spent months designing and testing his products – using his rescue dog Jinger as chief product tester.
From the start, Tsao planned to donate all proceeds from sales of the leashes to no-kill shelters like the one where he found Jinger.
Tsao sources his ropes from climbing gyms, which donate their old ropes, saving them from landfills and reducing the cost of raw materials. The ropes are washed and dried, then cut into different lengths. The ends are burned to keep them from fraying and a clip and handle are added at each end and covered with shrink tape. So far, more than a thousand leashes have been sold, saving around 10,000 feet of rope from the landfill and raising thousands for animal shelters.
The decision to donate the proceeds rather than earn money for himself was an easy one for Tsao, who explained to treehugger.com: “After realising that I could transform the retired ropes into dog leashes, I decided to direct my proceeds towards no-kill shelters, combining my passions for the environment and animals. Both causes have always been important to me as my parents taught me about sustainability from a young age, and we own a rescue ourselves.”
At Springwise, we are seeing people from all walks of life turn their personal interests and experience into sustainable innovations. Some of the most fascinating innovations have come from observation. These include a jewellery maker creating gemstones from upcycled beer bottles and a culinary programme that focuses on plant-based cooking.
Written By: Lisa Magloff