How Aldi is turning abandoned fish nets into sustainable clothing


Derelict fishing tools are responsible for the deaths of thousands of turtles and dolphins each year who become unsuspectingly entrapped in them. Popular supermarket Aldi is now stocking clothing which NGO Healthy Seas has ingeniously upcycled from these abandoned hazards.

According to UN Environment Programme reports, there are over 640,000 tonnes of abandoned fishing nets in the world’s oceans. These account for one-tenth of all ocean litter, and entrap thousands of marine animals per year.

Healthy Seas has endeavoured to put this waste to use, by retrieving the nets and turning them into wearable fibres. One upcoming product is a pair of sustainable socks, manufactured partially from revived fishnets.

The NGO works with fishermen and divers around the world to collect abandoned fishing nets, often found near shipwrecks where marine life is abundant. Though these nets are habitually disposed in landfill once recovered, Healthy Seas instead ensures the material is put to renewed use.

In 2015, Healthy Seas recovered over 108 tonnes of fishing nets around the world. Once collected, they undergo a rigorous regeneration process which transforms them into yarn. This is then used to create textile products like socks and sweaters.

What makes Healthy Seas particularly effective is that they put their profits back into marine life conservation programmes. Each pair of socks sold contributes to a strengthening problem-solving infrastructure. The company hopes eventually to expand and tackle the overabundance of disposed plastic in the planet’s oceans.

“It’s great to see Aldi putting their best foot forward by promoting a product partially made of recycled fishing gear,” said Christina Dixon, World Animal Protection UK’s campaign manager. “The socks are an ideal way for people to learn about the devastating impact of ghost fishing gear on animals and the environment. By spearheading the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, World Animal Protection hopes more companies will follow Aldi’s lead by empowering their consumers to make a practical difference.”

The socks will be available to buy in Aldi from 3 March. They will be sold under their Specialbuys range, which is not restocked once sold out.