While the demand for eco-friendly products grow, more and more people are finding their inventions are starting to bear fruit. Teenager Callum Davis’s quest to develop an eco-friendly way of fending off unwelcome slugs and snails also led to him deferring a university place in order to develop the product at the core of his fledgling – but already successful – business.
Davis, who is barely twenty years old already employs with his company, EcoCharlie, five full-time staff and is set to turn over £150,000 this year in sales of a fast-expanding range of “natural” garden products, including a garden watering system and is sold through Oxfam.
The aim is simple, he says: “To manufacture products which are natural, ethical, recycled, eco-friendly, sustainable or support a good cause.”
Davis is one of a wave of British entrepreneurs who are achieving commercial success after developing innovative, niche gardening products. The products meet consumer demand for environmentally friendly and ethically produced items not available from mainstream manufacturers.
Davis is without doubt one of the youngest. After completing his A-levels in June 2008, he decided to put on hold a place on a degree course at Plymouth University in order to develop ideas he had been experimenting with while studying A-level environmental science at Godalming College in Surrey.
After finding out that ground coffee dregs (and the caffeine contained therein) are a natural repellent for slugs and snails, Davis made a first, basic product, collecting dregs in bulk from local coffee shops. Researching the subject further, he saw a chance to use recycled, ground ceramics such as tiles and sanitaryware as a natural repellent. The ceramics are crushed into tiny shards that are too sharp for slugs and snails to tolerate, while the porous surface of the ceramic draws in the slug’s mucus, causing the shards to stick to it.