Fishing nets have become a huge problem for marine life. Whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and other marine life are being trapped by the nets left behind by fishermen. But with some clever innovations and technology, fashion could be the answer to cleaning up some of these nets and saving the lives of our beautiful marine life.
A number of brands, like surf champion Kelly Slater’s label Outerknown, or Stella McCartney, are now using fishing nets and reclaimed marine debris to make a recycled nylon fabric, ECONYL, that is not only turned into quality garments, but help reduce pressure on the oceans and their inhabitants.
What is ECONYL?
ECONYL, created by Italian firm Aquafil, uses synthetic waste such as industrial plastic, waste fabric, and fishing nets from oceans, then recycles and regenerates them into a new nylon yarn that is exactly the same quality as virgin nylon.
This regeneration system focuses on 6 steps that form a closed loop which uses less water and creates less waste than traditional nylon production methods. Waste is collected, then cleaned and shredded, depolymerised to extract nylon, polymerised, transformed into yarn, and then re-commercialised into textile products.
How can it help?
ECONYL is a way to recycle and replace virgin nylon in our everyday products and clothes. Traditional production methods for nylon are not eco-friendly, they require huge amounts of water and produce a hefty amount of nitrous oxide, which is 10 times more potent than carbon dioxide. What’s more, nylon is not biodegradable, and it is estimated that up 40% of man made plastic waste in the oceans are nylon.
While ECONYL is a fantastic initiative that is helping to clean up our waterways and repurpose trash that would otherwise end up in landfill, sticking around in the environment for hundreds of years before breaking down, there is still one itty bitty issue: microfibres. These tiny plastic particles are released from synthetic fibres, including ECONYL, so you still need to be aware of how to minimise them when using the recycled plastic fabric. From using a wash bag or filter in your washing machine, to only buying ECONYL goods that don’t require regular washing like shoes and swimwear, there are numerous steps you can take to make the most of your ECONYL goods.
The good news is that plenty of Good On You rated brands have jumped on the ECONYL bandwagon: