Earthbags Made from Recycled Fishing Nets

A hat tip to Gail for sending us this story.

Thousands of Homes Built from Earth Bags Made from Re-claimed Fishing Nets — Disaster Relief
Well not yet, but it’s a good idea.

The worlds oceans and dumps are swimming in old fishing nets and building something useful from them seems an appropriate use for this resource.

Gabion cages are generally made from galvanized steel and are commonly used in retaining walls, for erosion control and for other civil earthworks. Militarily, they are used to build bunkers and other rapidly deployed fortifications.

Earth bags are used to build strong durable housing, often in areas of the world where lumber and other resources are in short supply.

I’m proposing a fusion of these techniques using discarded fishing nets sewn into bags, to contain rocks, sea shells. coconut hulls, tin cans , plastic bottles , driftwood, construction debris or any other abundant material to build both temporary and permanent housing. Stockpiled net bags could be quickly loaded onto ships and deployed to disaster zones around the world. Old nets are durable, abundant and free. In fact, it costs money to dump old nets. Tipping fees could subsidise the manufacture of bags.
So often, when there is a disaster, relief agencies are overwhelmed with all of the difficulty of transporting heavy building materials to the point of need. Bags would be light weight and virtually unbreakable. Victims of the disaster could quickly cobble together a strong shelter from whatever resource is available to fill the bags.

The manufacture of these bags should not be centralized. Instead the bags should be made in coastal villages where ever old nets accumulate. Everyone would then have an interest in cleaning up the shores and the supply of bags would be well dispersed and therefore never far from the point of need.

I’ll get back to this soon. Meanwhile please chime in. Dale


7 thoughts on “Earthbags Made from Recycled Fishing Nets”

  1. Hi, I’m Dale the writer of this idea on the Permies Forum. There was some discussion beyond the single posting that was transferred to here. I don’t know how to move it all or whether this would be allowed but it may be useful. I will check out this forum from time to time. Thank you.

  2. Been thinking perhaps recycled fishing nets here in Homer, Alaska wrapped around multiple courses of bags might replace, or at least enhance, barbed wire. We are in super earthquake country.
    Draped over outside of bags could they also substitute for chicken wire in plastering?
    Your thoughts?

    • Fishing net may enhance the strength of earthbag walls, but don’t skimp on barbed wire, rebar pins or other reinforcement in earthquake zones. You’ll have to experiment and see if the plaster sticks to the fishing net. I tried a sample and it did not bond at all. The holes in the mesh were too small. Plaster mesh adds a lot of strength, so don’t take any chances. Test everything carefully.

  3. I know that recycled fishing nets can be used to reinforce concrete, if washed well to remove any salts accumulated (salt will degrade concrete). However, I am unsure that using nets to package trash to form walls would work well, due to the fact that most trash compacts when weight is applied to it, unlike earth will (beyond a certain point). Any roof would have to be supported by poles or beams, and not held up by the netted bags. Plastic, when kept away from UV rays, will last almost forever, and thus might be able to be used for wall infill, but not as a supportive material. The plastic would need some form of plastering or cob material to protect it. Some new forms of plastic are being made from corn, instead of oil, and thus will biodegrade over time. However, at the present, this bio-plastic is in the vast minority, but is likely to grow with time.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.