What do you do with hundreds of thousands of pounds of useless rope?
New federal regulations have made lobster float-rope - the multi-colored ropes used by Maine lobster men for years to tether underwater traps together - illegal. This legislation was designed to protect endangered right whales which can become entangled in the ropes. Float-rope, which floats just a bit above the ground to prevent snags, must be replaced with sink rope in 2009. And hundreds -perhaps millions - of pounds of float-rope have become obsolete.
According to Laura Ludwig of the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation, a lot of that rope would be melted and then molded into very cheap plastic plant pots and trays.
Beyond that demand, one can assume that plenty of rope would end up in landfills.
Until now. A new Maine-based company is weaving recycled float-rope into a truly unique, environmentally friendly home product everyone needs - doormats.
The company acquires this rope indirectly from the lobster men themselves. Ludwig is the coordinator of a non-profit government-funded exchange program that offers lobster men vouchers for each pound of float rope tuned in. Exchanges are held along the Maine coast. The lobster men can then use the vouchers as cash when buying new sink rope.
After collecting genuine Maine float-rope, the company recycles it into multi-hued, vibrant, and virtually indestructible doormats. And guess what, boat owners? The mats float! According to the company's website "It's a win-win - a safer habitat for whales, some financial relief for the lobster men, and a cleaner environment."
Initial public response to the doormats has been very positive for many reasons. First of all, they're authentic.
Each one consists of real lobster float-rope collected from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. You can almost imagine the salty air and water, the ocean storms, and bottom-of-the-sea treasures that have come in contact with the rope - although the doormats do not appear to carry any unpleasant scents!
It's a completely unique way to add character to the home - especially those lake or ocean cottages inspired by today's popular nautical-themed decor. Plus, they're colorful and pleasing to the eye. Float-rope comes in a variety of bright to muted tones and, woven together, make a warm and cheerful entryway.
And lastly, they work. They trap dirt, sand, snow, and mud from your feet and paws - just as you'd expect from a durable doormat. It goes without saying that they'll withstand all kinds of weather, are resistant to mold and mildew, and avoid absorbing water - after all, the rope was originally designed to hold lobster traps together for long periods of time in the ocean.
Handcrafted in Maine, they also provide the local economy with jobs and revenue. It's a great idea, a great way to turn a negative into a positive, and a great way to recycle.
Karen Mayo, as president of The New England Trading Company, regularly travels all over America looking for new and innovative products handmade by local artisans. They offer fine handcrafted Made in USA products such as Maine lobster rope doormats, blown glass, recycled sai bags, sea-stone cabinet knobs, reclaimed wood decor, rope wreaths, granite drink dispensers, and many other fascinating discoveries on their website at www.TheNewEnglandTradingCompany.com.
The New England Trading Company, Ltd. was founded in Waterford, Vermont and has fast become the place to go to for unique, handcrafted products all made in USA. Each product must pass stringent guidelines before being offered on the site, including outstanding artistry, attention to quality and detail, and it must be handmade within America.
New products discovered daily! Visit www.TheNewEnglandTradingCompany.com today for all your Made in USA home decor, furniture, wooden bowls, beach bags and coastal gifts.